Jordan King Abdullah in West Bank as Mideast boils

Jordan`s King Abdullah will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Ramallah: King Abdullah of Jordan arrived in Ramallah on Monday for a rare visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as the Palestinians pursue statehood in a region riveted by the slide toward civil war in Syria and mounting unrest in Egypt.

Abdullah, a critic of the deadlock in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, flew the short distance from his capital, Amman, by helicopter and went directly into talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

It was his first visit to the West Bank since 2000, when Abbas` predecessor the late Yasser Arafat was the undisputed Palestinian leader. Abbas, by contrast, faces a challenge from the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

"The visit comes in the context of Jordan`s support for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people to achieve Palestinian national rights and an independent state," a Jordanian palace official said on Sunday.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said Abdullah and Abbas would also "discuss the regional situation”.

Jordan shares a border with Syria, and Abdullah has called on its President Bashar al Assad to end his crackdown on opponents and step down to avoid further bloodshed.

On Sunday, Abbas hosted US peace envoy William Burns, who was due to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.

The Obama administration has worked to block a bid by the Palestinians to sidestep Israel by applying directly for full membership of the United Nations. Washington has also censured Israel for expanding its West Bank settlements.

Jordan is one of the few Arab countries to recognize Israel, though many of its populace are Palestinians descended from those displaced during the 1948 war of the Jewish state`s founding.

The Jordanian government fears further instability will lead to a new influx of Palestinians which could stretch already scant resources and raise tension with Jordanians.

Bureau Report

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