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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 16:16 GMT
Jordan praises US stance
King Abdullah of Jordan shakes hands with President George W Bush
The US will welcome support from an Arab kingdom
King Abdullah II of Jordan has praised US President George W Bush's "war on terror" and appeared to give tacit approval to the current American hard line towards Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The two leaders held a meeting in the White House on Friday, after which Mr Bush criticised Mr Arafat for an alleged attempt to smuggle in 50 tonnes of weapons from Iran to the Palestinian territories.


There are some countries in the middle that haven't made up their mind, and those countries better make up their minds pretty quickly

King Abdullah
King Abdullah also supported the president's designation of three countries, Iran, Iraq and North Korea, as an "axis of evil".

Correspondents said it was a significant step for Abdullah to stand so strongly behind the American president, who has received less than wholehearted support from other leaders in the Arab world.

"It is very obvious that there are those on the side of good and those on the side of bad and some in the middle, who haven't made up their minds," the king said during the Oval Office meeting.

He said there was a new expectation about what countries must do in the anti-terror campaign spearheaded by the United States, and the countries who remained uncommitted "better make up their minds pretty quickly".

Derailing peace

In exchanges with reporters after the meeting Mr Bush avoided referring to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's recent statement that he regretted not having Mr Arafat killed 20 years ago in Lebanon.

King Abdullah of Jordan and Secretary of State Colin Powell speak to the press
Differences emerged over the US plan to "isolate" Arafat
Instead, the president suggested it was best to keep the focus on "what derails peace", meaning terror.

But before the meeting differences emerged between the American and Jordanian positions over how to deal with Mr Arafat.

After a meeting between King Abdullah and Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday, an American official said the two men had agreed on the need to isolate the Palestinian leader following the alleged arms shipment.

But Jordan disputed this interpretation, saying the king's aim was instead to encourage Washington to engage with Mr Arafat.

See also:

31 Jan 02 | Middle East
Sharon regrets sparing Arafat
01 Feb 02 | Middle East
UN seeks urgent aid for Palestinians
25 Jan 02 | Middle East
US reconsiders ties with Arafat
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