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Saturday, July 3, 1999 Published at 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK

World: Middle East

Abdullah seeks Arab solidarity

King Abdullah: Wants Arab states to improve unity

Jordan's King Abdullah met Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir on Saturday and pledged to strengthen trade relations between their countries.

The Jordanian King is on a tour of four Arab nations, trying to drum up support for an Arab summit aimed at finding a common stance on the Middle East peace process.

He made a brief stopover in the Sudanese capital Khartoum before flying on to Morocco. He is scheduled to go to Mauritania and then return home on Sunday.

King Abdullah, accompanied by Prime Minister Abdul Raouf al-Rawabdeh and royal court chief Abdul Karim al-Kabariti, spent Friday in Yemen, where he held talks with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Jordanian king has visited several other Arab countries since he ascended to the throne, following the death of his father King Hussein in February.

He has already been credited with improving ties with neighbouring Syria.

Morocco-Algeria diplomacy

King Abdullah is due in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, on Saturday evening on the third leg of his journey.

Senior Jordanian officials said he was prepared to try to mediate an end to the tensions between Morocco and neighbouring Algeria.

Relations between Algiers and Rabat have been strained for years because of regional rivalry and mutual mistrust.

Diplomats in Morocco and Algeria said the two countries were taking cautious steps towards reconciliation, including the possible re-opening of their 1,200km border.

Algiers closed the border in 1994 after Morocco accused its security forces of attacking a hotel in the southern Moroccan city of Marrakesh, killing two Spaniards.

The neighbours also have a long-running dispute over Western Sahara, most of which is controlled by Morocco.

The Polisario Front, which is seeking independence for the former Spanish territory, is based in Algeria.

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