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Jordan's King Abdullah in Russia - 2001-08-27

Jordan's King Abdullah is in Russia for talks with senior officials on issues ranging from trade to the violence in the Middle East.

The king arrived Sunday with a long list of issues to discuss with his Russian hosts. Trade and cooperation figure prominently, as does the Jordanian leader's desire to encourage Russia to play a more active role in helping to end the violence in the Middle East.

Officially, Russia is, along with Washington, a co-sponsor of the peace process, but has played only a limited role in negotiations. Russian influence in the Middle East has diminished dramatically since the days of the Cold War, when Arab countries depended on the Soviet Union for economic and military support.

King Abdullah will meet with President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials on Tuesday. On his arrival here, the Jordanian monarch said he hopes those talks will lead to a further development of relations, politically, economically and culturally.

Monday, the king went to the weapons manufacturing city of Tula to visit an elite Russian airborne division, and to inspect weapons systems. Jordan's military is partially equipped with Soviet weapons purchased nearly two decades ago.

How interested King Abdullah is in purchasing Russian military hardware remains to be seen. The United States has already promised to strengthen Jordan's defenses as a reward for signing a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. The Amman government has already received from the U.S. sophisticated F-16 jet fighters and other equipment worth some $300 million. The visit is the king's first official trip to Russia. He is accompanied on the trip by his wife, Rania. On Wednesday, they travel to Russia' second largest city, St. Petersburg.