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Colin Powell Visits Jordan to Promote 'Road Map' Peace Plan - 2003-05-12

Secretary of State Colin Powell is in Jordan to promote the so-called "road map," the latest international plan for peace in the region.

Mr. Powell arrived in Amman and headed for a meeting with King Abdullah. Jordan has been a staunch U.S. ally and is one of only two Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.

Mr. Powell is expected to thank the Jordanian monarch for his country's quiet support during the Iraq war and also promote the road map for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as bringing about a broader peace in the region.

A spokesman for the royal court told VOA the King would emphasize the need to begin implementing the road map immediately.

Mr. Powell's peace efforts have been met with disappointment and skepticism among Arabs. There is disappointment that even after talks Sunday with Prime Minster Ariel Sharon, he could not get Israel to endorse the road map, while the Palestinians have done so.

Israel announced Sunday it is taking some steps to ease restrictions on the Palestinians, including a lifting of the closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the release of some prisoners. Many Palestinians called those measures "cosmetic." Israel re-imposed a full closure on the Gaza Strip early Monday, citing security reasons.

Mr. Powell says the important thing is that Israel and the Palestinians have found enough common ground to at least take some steps toward defusing tensions. He says the two sides need to sit down to negotiate other differences.

Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas are expected to meet later this week.

Mr. Powell is to meet with Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher before traveling Tuesday to Saudi Arabia to complete the Middle East portion of his trip.