Itzik seeks to revive peace process

Knesset speaker, Abbas, Jordan's FM discuss Saudi peace initiative in Amman.

By SHEERA CLAIRE FRENKEL, AP
July 22, 2007 21:27
1 minute read.
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Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik discussed the Arab Peace Initiative with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah Khatib and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Amman Sunday, amid renewed efforts to restart the stalled Middle East peace process. Itai Bardov, press attaché at the Israeli embassy in Amman, said that all parties expressed interest in using the Arab Peace Initiative, which envisions full Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for lands it captured in the Six Day War, as the framework for peace talks. Bardov told reporters that Itzik's talks with Abbas were held in a warm atmosphere, but declined to provide details. It was Itzik's second visit to Jordan to discuss the peace initiative. He said Itzik and Khatib also discussed the agenda for their upcoming meeting in Israel on Wednesday that will include Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. The Arab peace initiative is also expected to be the focus of those talks. Jordan's ruler, King Abdullah II, is scheduled to meet US President George W. Bush in Washington on Tuesday. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will hold talks with Khatib in Amman on Monday. Blair was recently named envoy of the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators, which includes the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia. Also Monday, British Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells is scheduled to meet Jordanian officials in Amman. Abdullah, who is on a tour of Canada and the United States, has enthusiastically embraced Bush's recent call for an international Middle East peace conference, telling the American leader last week that his endeavor was a "positive step in the right direction." Jordan, a key US ally, has been rallying for restarting Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking based on the Arab peace initiative, which calls for Palestinian statehood. Jordan and other Sunni Arab states, like political powerhouse Saudi Arabia, which proposed the Arab peace plan, fear the lack of peacemaking progress is spurring militancy in the region, like the takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas. Those countries also say regional instability is contributing to the growing influence of non-Arab, Shi'ite Iran.

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