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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Jordan checks king's Arafat view
King Abdullah of Jordan with US President George Bush
The statement puts Abdullah in the same boat as President Bush
Jordanian officials are trying to clarify comments by King Abdullah of Jordan which suggested that Yasser Arafat should consider stepping aside.

The king was quoted in a New York Times article as saying that Mr Arafat must take "a long look in the mirror" and decide if he was helping Palestinians.

King Abdullah's comments appeared to provide a rare indication of Arab leaders' frustration with Mr Arafat. Royal officials said late on Tuesday that the quote was "inaccurate".

"News agency reports of a New York Times interview quoting King Abdullah II calling on Yasser Arafat to look into the possibility of abdicating are inaccurate," a court official told the AFP news agency.

"His majesty did not mention the issue of abdication, by near or by far... this is an issue that concerns the Palestinians alone. Jordan does not interfere in other people's affairs."

Strong man for Iraq

In the same New York Times interview, King Abdullah said that Iraq's next ruler should be a military "tough guy" capable of holding the shattered country together.

[There are Iraqi] national heroes that do appeal to the Iraqi street
King Abdullah
"I would say that the profile would be somebody from inside, somebody who's very strong, has some sort of popular feeling," he said.

"I would probably imagine - again, this is off the top of my head - somebody with a military background who has experience of being a tough guy who could hold Iraq together for the next year."

King Abdullah said that some older officers might not be tainted by having supported the ousted Baathist president Saddam Hussein.

"There were a lot of heroes; there are strong community leaders who are products of the Iraq-Iran war" he said.

"They are national heroes that do appeal to the Iraqi street."

Correspondents said the comments could be an implied criticism of the leaders picked by the US-led coalition that occupies Iraq, most of whom lived in exile during the Saddam era.

Jordan, a close ally of the US, is a key regional mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, and more than half its population is Palestinian. It also borders Iraq and hosts large numbers of Iraqi expatriates.


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