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Jordan's King Urges End to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


King Abdullah of Jordan says time is running out to create a Palestinian state and it may be years before another opportunity comes again.

Speaking to reporters at the European-American Press Club, King Abdullah warned politicians had just two or three years to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or face the consequences.

"I'm just concerned that geographically, on the ground, we may find ourselves in two years time talking about nothing," said King Abdullah. "Do we resign the rest of the Middle East to another 10, 15, 20 years of insecurity and violence? And I think there is apathy also in the international community. Most countries, as we [do], have gotten peace fatigue. I guess that's the best way of describing it."

The king's remarks come as the radical Islamist movement Hamas presented a cabinet list that does not include any other parties. Hamas swept January elections, but has failed to persuade any other Palestinian factions to join its government.

King Abdullah says Jordan will do business with Hamas only as a representative of the Palestinian people. The king, who met earlier in the day with French President Jacques Chirac, says the Europeans are looking for creative ways to keep funding the Palestinians.

The European Union and the United States - traditionally the Palestinian Authority's largest donors - consider Hamas a terrorist group. They want Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel. Washington has already put a freeze on its funding to the Palestinian Authority. The EU recently agreed to short-term funding for the Palestinians, but it is are now considering its next step.

King Abdullah also discussed concerns of further instability in the Middle East generated by Iran and Iraq. Despite ongoing violence in Iraq, three years after the start of the U.S.-led war, he said he was still optimistic about that country's future.

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