Jordan, Russia Pledge Closer Ties, Arms Deal Pending

Published August 29th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Jordan’s King Abdullah and Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged greater cooperation Tuesday in talks that covered the Middle East crisis and arms sales, said reports.  

The Jordanian monarch, on a three-day trip to Russia, told Putin their nations had "a lot in common" in their approach to resolving the crisis in the Middle East, government officials quoted by Russian media said. 

The two leaders had an hour and a half session of one-on-one talks before bringing in advisors, 10 to 12 on each side, for discussions that covered "cooperation in every field, in particular arms supplies," an official told the Interfax news agency, cited by AFP.  

The specifics regarding weaponry and weapons parts to be sold to Jordan were to be discussed at the expert level, he said.  

The king is believed to be interested in buying Russian light armored vehicles, anti-tank missile complexes and shoulder-held grenade launchers, along with Mi-8 and Mi-17 military transport planes, AFP said.  

On Monday, he inspected a state-of-the-art anti-tank missile system in Tula, south of Moscow. 

The Russian side in the talks included Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov and the head of Russia's arms export company Rosoboronexport, Kiril Belianinov. 

Putin said he appreciated Jordan's "very open and rational approach in the Middle East, as well as in world matters." 

He added that the Mitchell plan for bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end, formulated by former US senator George Mitchell, could be a first step to solving the Middle East crisis, the Interfax news agency reported. 

The plan recommends a six-week cooling-off period with confidence building measures, a freeze on developing Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas and finally a return to political negotiations. 

Putin also said "Arab countries can play a very positive role in easing the situation around Iraq." 

The monarch thanked Putin for the "colossal work" he had contributed to efforts to restoring peace in the Middle East, Interfax reported. 

Moscow, a co-sponsor with the United States of the Middle East peace process, has traditionally been closer to the Arab side in the conflict.  

In separate talks with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, the king said relations between the two countries must be developed further, but that areas of cooperation remained to be identified, Interfax reported. 

Kasyanov regretted that "the potential between the two countries is not being used to the full," adding that contacts should be promoted mainly in economics, trade and arms trade.  

The monarch’s third and final day in Russia Wednesday is to be devoted to visiting the second city Saint Petersburg with his wife, Queen Rania. 

 

REPORT: CHENCHEN LEADER TRIES TO CONTACT PUTIN THROUGH JORDAN'S KING 

 

Chechnya's separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov tried to pass a message to Putin through King Abdullah, says a report.  

But according to Interfax news agency, Maskhadov's emissary, former housing minister M. Azayev, failed to have an audience with Jordan's authorities, said Interfax news agency.  

Interfax said, quoting competent sources, that Maskhadov tried to start summit talks. He expected that Abdullah would pass the message to Putin during their meeting in Moscow.  

Despite the support from Jordan's Chechen community the attempt turned out to be futile.  

Aslan Maskhadov, a guerrilla commander, was elected as Chechnya's separatist president in 1997.  

His presidential term expired in January this year, but he remains Chechnya's most prominent pro-independence leader.  

Russia withdrew its troops from Chechnya in 1996, but the army returned in September 1999, after incursions by Chechen rebels into neighboring Dagestan and the deaths of some 300 people in apartment bombings that Russian officials blamed on rebels – Albawaba.com

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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