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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 19:14 GMT
Abdullah says bombing must go on
Talking Point studio
The king was talking on a BBC News Online webcast
King Abdullah of Jordan says US attacks on Afghanistan must continue until Washington achieves its military objectives against Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation.

The king said that might necessitate the campaign carrying on during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, despite reservations in the Islamic world.

We do have a problem. We have to deal with it

King Abdullah of Jordan
He was speaking in a live webcast on BBC News Online for the BBC's Talking Point programme, during a state visit to London.

"I think that any human being would want confrontation or violence to cease as quickly as possible," the king said.

"So we wouldn't want the operations to go more than a single second longer than it has. But having said that, we do have a problem. We have to deal with it."

He also said there was no doubt that Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were responsible for the suicide plane attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September, which he described as "the most dramatic, catastrophic terrorist incident" in history.

Sensitive issues

Asked about the deaths of innocent Afghans in the US-led bombing campaign, he said everything was being done to reduce casualties, but he added:

"Whenever there is a military objective, it has to be thought through very well. But once you think it through, it has to be carried through with unflinching resolve."

There is no such thing as moderate Islam and extremist Islam. There is Islam and there are extremists

King Abdullah
He also said that he was "open to suggestions" about the deployment of Jordanian troops in Afghanistan, whether as peacekeepers or special forces.

On the question of continuing the bombing during Ramadan, the king said religious holidays were "sensitive for people... and that increases the imperative for military commanders to bring this to a quick solution".

"Out of adversity comes tremendous hope of the world coming together for the better... but definitely leading into Ramadan there are going to be a lot of reservations if the campaign is going to continue," he said.

The king dismissed suggestions that there was an ideological conflict between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, saying Osama Bin Laden had hijacked and distorted Islam for his own ends.

"There is no such thing as moderate Islam and extremist Islam. There is Islam and there are extremists," he said.

Quest for Mid-East peace

The king was also asked specifically about the situation in the Middle East, although he raised the issue himself in a question about the "definition of terrorism".

He condemned the Palestinian suicide bomber who "goes to a pizza restaurant and blows himself up and kills innocent people", although he said it was "a bit greyer" when people, who could be freedom fighters, take on an occupying army.

Later he warned that the Israeli-Palestinian problem would have to be solved or the events of 11 September would happen again.

"We must say: Israelis and Palestinians you must solve your differences so that we can move on."

The king of disguise

One issue that seems to have caught the imagination of the public is King Abdullah's penchant for dressing up as a commoner to inspect conditions in Jordan.

He spoke candidly about it to a questioner in the Netherlands: "It is easy for you to get disconnected from the people.

In winter it's much easier because you can put on more clothing and more disguises. It gets a bit difficult in the summer

King Abdullah
"You need to be reminded of where the problems are, but a lot of people that can be around leaders like to tell them what they want to hear," he said.

However, there were calls from Jordan itself which challenged recent legislation to restrict press freedom and freedom of association in the country.

"The sky's the limit for freedoms," the king responded. "But there has to be some sort of responsibility and people have to meet us halfway."

He also did not rule out a move away from an executive role for the monarchy in Jordan.

"Monarchies have to adapt... The world will demand countries in a certain direction and we are all going to have to move with the times, definitely."

Talking Point will be broadcast on radio on BBC World Service and repeated on Saturday and Sunday on BBC World, the BBC's 24-hour news and information channel.

See also:

09 Nov 01 | Middle East
Talking to King Abdullah
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