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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 March, 2005, 23:42 GMT
Top Jordan minister visits Israel
Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulki (3rd L) is accompanied by Palestinian officials as he visits the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah
In Ramallah, Mulki visited Arafat's tomb
Jordan's Foreign Minister Hani Mulki has held talks in Israel and the Palestinian territories on the first trip of its kind in four years.

Mr Mulki met Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah where he discussed last month's peace accord signed in Egypt.

He also met Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom ahead of talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday.

Israel has said it may return Jordanian prisoners to Jordan.

Restoring relations

An Israeli official told Reuters it would endeavour to hand them over to Jordanian custody because they had been convicted of involvement in assaults.
They (the prisoners) are important to us and we want to see them released next month or during this month
Hani Mulki, Jordan's foreign minister

Jordan says there are about 20 Jordanian prisoners in Israel's jails, including several jailed before Jordan's peace treaty with Israel was signed in 1994.

"They (the prisoners) are important to us and we want to see them released next month or during this month," Mr Mulki said.

He is expected tomorrow to discuss the prisoners as well as Jordan's position on final status issues in the peace process, borders, refugees, Jerusalem and water.

He said the talks would focus on how to bring the 1994 peace treaty and agreements with Jordan back into action.

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab countries to have signed peace deals with Israel but relations frayed four years ago with the start of the Palestinian uprising.

Both countries accused Israel of what they called the use of excessive military force against the Palestinians.

Co-operation on security

Mr Mulki's trip comes two weeks after Jordan returned its ambassador to Tel Aviv, a move promised during last month's summit in Egypt where Israeli and Palestinian leaders committed themselves to pursue the peace process once again.

Mr Mulki added that talks would also focus on security co-operation.

Jordan has proposed that a 1,000-strong security brigade made up of Palestinians it has trained be dispatched to secure areas of the West Bank once Israel withdraws from four settlements there later in the year.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has welcomed the offer, but Israel has expressed reservations, saying such a deployment could be viewed as a return of Palestinian refugees.

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