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Jordanian King Discusses Mideast Violence with Putin - 2001-08-28

Jordan's King Abdullah has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the ongoing violence in the Middle East as well as bilateral trade and military cooperation.

King Abdullah said he is pleased that Jordan and Russia hold similar views on finding solutions to the Middle East conflict. He spoke following a meeting with President Putin.

Mr. Putin praised Jordan for what he termed the "rational and flexible course" it has followed. The Russian leader also repeated his support for the so-called Mitchell Commission plan, which offers a blueprint for ending 11 months of Israeli-Palestinian violence. The plan calls for a truce to be followed by certain confidence-building measures, including a crackdown on Palestinian militants and a freeze on Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Mr. Putin said implementation of the Mitchell plan could become the first step toward a settlement.

Prior to the visit, Jordanian diplomats here said the king would like Russia to come up with a concrete peace proposal and to generally increase its role in peacemaking efforts.

Russia is an official cosponsor of the Middle East peace process but has been largely overshadowed by its partner, the United States.

The two men also discussed Iraq and what they termed the need to bring the tragic situation of the Iraqi people to an end. Both favor and end to U.N. sanctions imposed following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait ten years ago. Mr. Putin called on Arab nations to play a more active role on the Iraqi issue.

On Monday the king, a former commander of Jordan's special forces commando unit, inspected Russia's state of the art anti-tank missile systems during a visit to a weapons manufacturing plant in Tula.

Of particular interest was the latest generation of Russia's Cornet-3 missile system, which is said to be capable of piercing the armor of existing and projected western tanks.

Over the years, Jordan equipped its military partly with Soviet weaponry as well as with American-made hardware. The Untied States doubled its military aid as a reward for Jordan's agreement to a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. So far, Jordan has received about $300 million worth of American equipment, including sophisticated F-16 jet fighters.

King Abdullah and his wife Rania are to travel to St. Petersburg on Wednesday, the last stop on their three-day tour.