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Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 13:56 UK

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu visits Jordan

Benjamin Netanyahu during talks in Egypt
Netanyahu left Israeli soil for the first time this week since taking office

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a lightning visit to Jordan for talks with King Abdullah.

The previously unannounced trip is the Israeli leader's second this week. He went to Egypt on Monday, his first time on foreign soil since taking office.

Mr Netanyahu is due in Washington for what are being seen as crucial talks with President Barack Obama on 18 May.

The Jordanian ruler pressed the Israeli premier to endorse a Palestinian state which so far he has decline to do.

A two-state solution based on independent Palestinian statehood is a goal strongly backed by the US and by Jordan and Egypt, Israel's only allies among Arab states.

The international community has agreed there is no alternative to the two-state solution
King Abdullah of Jordan

"The king demanded the Israeli government declare its commitment to the two-state solution, accept the Arab peace initiative and take practical steps to achieve progress," King Abdullah's office said after the meeting.

"The international community has agreed there is no alternative ... and any other solution is unacceptable because it will not achieve a just peace, creating more conflict," the statement said.

The king also pressed Mr Netanyahu to stop Israeli settlement building on Palestinian land and "seize the current historic opportunity to make peace with the Arabs".

Benjamin Netanyahu flew straight back to Israel where he was is due to meet Pope Benedict XVI, who has been visiting Biblical locations in northern Israel.

The BBC's Paul Wood in Jerusalem says the frantic activity is because Israel fears being diplomatically isolated ahead of his Washington trip.

On Monday, King Abdullah warned that failure to reach an agreement for peace in the Middle East would result in a new conflagration within 12-18 months.

In comments to a UK newspaper, he said the US was finalising a comprehensive solution to Israel's conflicts with the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese that would involve all 57 Arab and Muslim states.

Our correspondent says everything appears to be leading towards a visit by President Obama to Cairo next month, during which he is expected to announce his support for the Jordanian plan in some form.

King Abdullah - a staunch ally of the United States - has ruled Jordan since 1999, with extensive powers to appoints governments, approve legislation and to dissolve parliament.



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