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Olmert Meets Jordan's King, West Bank Pullout Not Addressed


Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held talks Thursday with King Abdullah of Jordan in the Jordanian capital, Amman. It was Mr. Olmert's second visit to an Arab nation in the past week.

Ehud Olmert and King Abdullah met for an hour in a low-key meeting largely overshadowed by the news that Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been killed in neighboring Iraq.

The two men did not comment on the al-Zarqawi death although they did reportedly discuss the killing in their meeting.

Both leaders read brief statements following their discussions but did not take questions from reporters. Prime Minister Olmert did not address his plan to withdraw from most of the West Bank, while keeping several large settlement blocs there and draw Israel's border with the Palestinians along the lines of the controversial separation barrier. Instead, he said he will seek a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, and will meet soon with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Mark Regev a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry says Israel will engage with Jordan on any plans for the West Bank.

"We want to hear their security concerns," he said. "We have a good security relationship with Jordan. There is a common strategic understanding that what is good for Jordan is good for Israel. Jordan is a crucial element in our national security. A strong vibrant Jordan is a plus for Israel."

In an interview with an Israeli newspaper earlier this week King Abdullah criticized Mr. Olmert's plans for the West Bank saying Israel's relations with Jordan will be hurt if Mr. Olmert pursues unilateral actions in the area. In his statement on Thursday, the Jordanian monarch said a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the international "road map peace plan" is the only solution that should be sought.

Similar comments were made by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak earlier this week following a meeting he held with Mr. Olmert in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el Sheikh.

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