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The BBC's Paul Adams
"Warm words from both leaders"
 real 28k

Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 20:17 GMT 21:17 UK
King sees shared Jerusalem
King Abdullah and Prime Minsiter Ehud Barak
A warm welcome: Ehud Barak (right) and King Abdullah
King Abdullah of Jordan has suggested that Jerusalem could be the joint capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state.

In an interview with Israeli television, the king said: "When we look at Jerusalem on the political level, I believe Jerusalem has enough room for a Palestinian and Israeli capital."

The king - speaking after his return from his first visit to Israel since being crowned monarch a year ago - said Jerusalem should also be a religious centre for all.

There is a golden opportunity, with Arafat in power, with President Clinton still in power, with this government in Israel that wants to make peace

Ehud Barak
During his four-hour trip, King Abdullah held meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and other members of the government.

Optimism for peace

Both he and Mr Barak expressed optimism about the Middle East peace process.

King Abdullah and Mr Barak are believed to have discussed the Palestinian and Syrian tracks in the Middle East peace process. On bilateral issues, little or no progress seems to have been made.

After the meeting, Mr Barak said their talks had been positive and productive, and he was optimistic about the next round with the Palestinians next Sunday.

Sometimes, when we get into negotiations, we lose sight of the big picture: peace itself

King Abdullah
"There is a golden opportunity, with Arafat in power, with President Clinton still in power, with this government in Israel that wants to make peace," Mr Barak said.

King Abdullah said: "We are on the threshold of a new beginning here in the Middle East, not only the Palestinian track, but the Syrian track."

However, he warned that wrangling over small details was undermining the wider process.

Warm welcome

In a speech of welcome at the Israeli resort of Eilat, Mr Barak said the peace process would become stronger as more and more people benefited from it and called for the strengthening of the ties between Israel and Jordan.

King Abdullah and Queen Rania
King Abdullah with Queen Rania
The visit is expected to improve relations between Israel and Jordan.

The monarch has not yet had the warm relationship with Israeli leaders that distinguished his father, the late King Hussein.

A scheduled trip in February was postponed because of tension over Israel's air attacks on Lebanon.

Jordan plays down visit

King Abdullah's first trip to Israel was mentioned, but not highlighted, in the Jordanian press.

The low-key visit was a contrast to the warm and sometimes effusive approach that King Hussein adopted with Israeli leaders.

BBC Amman correspondent Barbara Plett says King Abdullah is committed to the treaty signed by his father, but he is also sensitive to widespread discontent with relations with Israel at home.

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See also:

23 Aug 99 | Middle East
Bridge links Israel and Jordan
09 Jun 99 | Middle East
King Abdullah: Jordan's hope
21 Apr 00 | Middle East
Fresh start for Mid-East talks
24 Apr 00 | Media reports
Highlights of King Abdullah's interview
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