King Abdullah calls for accelerated peace talks
Jordan's King Abdullah II said the Middle East talks needed to speed up, and that moderate Arab states had to have peace and a Palestinian state in view to confront the issue of terrorism with their people.
"I am concerned that if we are going to take a step by step" approach "this confidence-building slow procedure, then we'll never going to get anywhere," Abdullah said late Monday in an interview with CNN.
So far, the "open-ended" nature of talks has slowed progress in finding a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the Jordanian monarch said.
"Peace talks need speeding up so that moderate Arab states can tackle the issue of terrorism with their nationals once a Palestinian state and a Middle East peace is in view," he said. An "acceptable" timeframe is required for Middle East peace talks, he added.
The monarch spoke after meeting in Washington Monday with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Saudi Foreign Minister Saudi al-Faisal. Abdullah said his main discussion would be with President George W. Bush on Wednesday.
"We need more peace as opposed to process," the Jordanian king said, adding that: "The Arabs have done as much as they can given the parameters they have had to work with."
"If it's going to take another 10-15 years to talk about it (a Palestinian state), then we're never going to move forward."
And talks will look at "how to visualize a series of steps that make sense in bringing the Israelis and the Palestinians closer together but at the same time building on the Saudi initiative: i.e. the Arab olive branch to the Israelis to be part of the neighborhood," he said.
Abdullah said Arab states wanted "to go beyond" the issue of maps and borders, to get an agreement for "peace for Israelis with their Arab neighbors and the Arab region as a whole, (and) that there will be a viable Palestinian state within an acceptable timeframe."
The focus for Israelis of peace with their Arab neighbors is an important issue "that needs to be put on the front burner," commented Abdullah. "So how do we develop the two tracks simultaneously in a way that makes sense to everyone? "What you need to do is address the public to say a Palestinian state in a reasonable amount of time ... Israeli acceptance by all the Arab countries in a reasonable amount of time. If we can agree on the principle we can work...backwards -- talk about refugees etc. etc.," he said.
"When you offer the Arabs and the Palestinians a future for the Palestinians which is obviously a tremendous Arab concern, then there's a lot more they can do on an economic social level."
"And at the same time it gives us moderate countries ... the ammunition we need to be able to fight terrorism even more," the monarch added. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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