Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Israeli PM 'attends Jordan talks'

Israeli tanks on Gaza border (17 Nov 08)
Violence on the Israel-Gaza border has increased in recent weeks

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak paid a secret visit to Jordan on Tuesday to discuss Gaza, officials have said.

During the meeting, King Abdullah reportedly asked the Israeli leaders to refrain from any large-scale military incursions into the coastal territory.

Mr Olmert is said to have declined to give a guarantee. Jordanian officials have so far not commented on the talks.

Recent cross-border violence has risked the five-month-old ceasefire in Gaza.

Earlier, the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, said one of its members had been killed in an explosion east of Gaza City.

The group said he had been on a "jihad mission" at the time. Correspondents say this suggests the blast was an accident.

Ease tensions

Mr Olmert's office has not commented on the report about Thursday's clandestine meeting in Jordan.

However, Israeli radio cited a senior Israeli official a saying that King Abdullah had told Mr Olmert and Mr Barak that Israel "cannot enjoy peace... unless the Palestinians obtain security and their own state".

"King Abdullah II asked Olmert to deal seriously with the Palestinians in the negotiations in order to achieve a two-state solution," he added.

Jordan is home to many Palestinians and correspondents say the king is keen to avoid a confrontation in Gaza that might also cause unrest in his country.

Renewed cross-border fighting broke out two weeks ago when the Israeli military launched in incursion into Gaza to destroy what it said was a tunnel intended to help abduct its soldiers.

Palestinian militants have responded by firing rockets across the border, triggering a tightening of the Israeli government's blockade.

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