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Jordan's King Calls on Israel to Negotiate With Palestinians


Jordan's King Abdullah is calling on Israel to restart peace talks with the Palestinians.

In an interview Wednesday with an Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, King Abdullah says Israel's relations with Jordan may be harmed if the Jewish state goes ahead with a unilateral pullout from parts of the occupied West Bank.

The interview comes one day before Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert travels to Amman for talks with the king.

Mr. Olmert has said he will set Israel's final borders by 2010 even if there is no Palestinian partner for peace. Israel refuses to negotiate with the Hamas-led Palestinian government and has called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of the Fatah faction, irrelevant.

King Abdullah says that Israel should negotiate with Mr. Abbas who the king calls the Palestinian partner for peace.

In the interview, King Abdullah says he supports a referendum planned by the Palestinian president. The referendum will ask Palestinians if they endorse a peace document drawn up by Palestinian prisoners. The document calls for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and recognizes the Jewish state.

The King said he hopes Mr. Olmert will present plans for re-starting peace negotiations. But Israeli political sources say Mr. Olmert hopes to win support for his unilateral plan to set Israel's borders if peace talks with the Palestinians fail.

Earlier this week, Mr. Olmert met Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and the Israeli prime minister has agreed to hold his first summit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of the month.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.