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Friday, April 23, 1999 Published at 06:02 GMT 07:02 UK

World: Middle East

'New era' for Syria and Jordan

King Abdullah of Jordan has ended a visit to Syria saying it ushered a "new era" of relations.

[ image: Jordan's new king (with Queen Rania) has thawed frozen relations with Arab states]
Jordan's new king (with Queen Rania) has thawed frozen relations with Arab states
"We see eye-to-eye on all issues," the king said.

In the past Syria and Jordan have been at odds over relations with their neighbour Israel, especially since the elections of hardline Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1997.

The king met Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in Damascus on Wednesday.

President Assad, who is opposed to Jordan's 1994 peace treaty with Israel, welcomed King Abdullah with open arms, calling him "my dear son".

A spokesman for the Syrian president said the visit had been successful and had led to positive results.

[ image: President Assad's appearance at King Hussein's funeral was significant]
President Assad's appearance at King Hussein's funeral was significant
Officials said the two countries had agreed to speed up plans to build a $400m dam on the Yarmouk river and to seek joint financing for the project.

President Assad's surprise attendance at King Hussein's funeral and the subsequent official visit of the president's son Bashar to Amman led to speculation in Jordan that there could be a renaissance in bilateral relations.

"The visit of President Assad and his party to the funeral was received as a positive gesture and I think there is willingness on both sides to improve relations," said Foreign Minister Abdulilah al-Khatib.

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