Welcoming Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon as a "tremendous boost" to the Mideast peace process, King Abdullah of Jordan on Friday urged Arabs and Israelis to accelerate negotiations and iron out a permanent peace accord, reported CNN.com.
"As our region gets rid of lingering conflicts and remaining military occupations, we must expedite the process of building a peace that is lasting and sustainable," the king was quoted as saying.
"It is time for Arabs and Israelis to reach out and cast away their fortress mentalities. Let us take the risk for peace. It is so worth it, and more importantly, our people deserve it."
Israeli troops pulled out of southern Lebanon last week, making good on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's pledge to end a 22-year occupation of parts of the volatile border area, said the report.
King Abdullah, in Atlanta for festivities celebrating CNN's 20th anniversary, said he was encouraged by the lack of violence on the border since the withdrawal, and expressed hope that Israel and its neighbors would make stronger strides toward peace.
"I think any move in the direction of peace, any step forward, can only be positive for all of the parties, because it reminds them how close they can get to the final agreement," King Abdullah said.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have set a September 13 deadline to reach agreement on the most fundamental issues dividing the two sides, including the status of Jerusalem, the return of Palestinian refugees, water rights and the borders of a Palestinian state, said CNN – Albawaba.com
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