Jordan's King Abdullah has met with Secretary of State Colin Powell at the start of a Washington visit sure to be dominated by discussion of ways to re-start Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. The Jordanian leader, who sees President Bush Friday, calls this a "very crucial time" in the Middle East.
King Abdullah, among other U.S. Arab allies, has been critical of the Bush administration's virtual freeze on contacts with Palestinian Authority chief Yasser Arafat. But in a joint press appearance with Secretary Powell, he said he believes President Bush has been committed "from day one" to helping end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For that matter, he said he believes most Israelis and Palestinians are frustrated and desperate to find a way out of their suffering:
"I know that the majority of Israelis want to find an exit. I mean, at the end of the day let's forget about the politics and the leadership. The peoples, I believe the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are just sick and tired of the cycle of violence and want a way out," King Abdullah said.
Secretary Powell said the administration remains in contact with Mr. Arafat and is applying "some additional pressure" to get him to deal with Palestinian violence and the apparent attempt by Arafat associates to smuggle in a boatload of Iranian arms.