Olmert, Abdullah meet today in Aqaba

Leaders to discuss Arab peace initiative; PM might invite king to Knesset.

olmert abdullah 88 (photo credit: )
olmert abdullah 88
(photo credit: )
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may invite Jordanian King Abdullah II to address the Knesset when the two meet at the king's palace in Aqaba on Tuesday. Senior diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said Monday night that Olmert was considering extending an invitation to the king, who has taken a very high profile in pushing forward the Arab Peace Initiative. Olmert will take part in a conference for Nobel laureates that the king is hosting in Petra in the morning, and then meet with him at his palace in Aqaba at noon. Nabil Amr, a senior adviser to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, was quoted in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper Monday saying that Abdullah planned to address the Knesset. Last month, the king hosted Knesset Speaker and Acting President Dalia Itzik and a Knesset delegation to try to drum up Israeli support for the initiative. The Olmert-Abdullah meeting will be their first "formal" meeting since they met in June at the previous Petra Nobel laureate conference, although they met "informally" in the fall when Olmert held talks in Amman with a Saudi representative. Sources close to Olmert said the two leaders were expected to discuss the Arab Peace Initiative, the situation in the PA and bilateral ties. This will be the highest level talks yet on the Arab League plan. Although there was some speculation that Abbas would join Olmert and Abdullah for a trilateral meeting, sources in Olmert's office said this was unlikely. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said an Olmert-Abbas meeting was expected next week in Jericho. One issue that Olmert will not broach at his meeting with Abdullah, said sources in his office, was an idea that has reemerged in recent days - a Palestinian-Jordanian federation. Israel accepts the idea of a two-state solution, the official said, and a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation is not Israeli government policy. Sources in Olmert's office said they did not know whether any Saudi representatives or officials from the Gulf states would be at the conference, but that the only other meeting that Olmert had planned there - outside of the discussions planned with Abdullah - was with another of the conference's organizers, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. Abdullah, meanwhile, is sending one of his private helicopters to pick up Vice Premier and Nobel laureate Shimon Peres. Peres will meet separately with Abdullah in discussions expected to focus on progress on the joint Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian project called the "Peace Valley" that Peres has been pushing for years. The idea behind the project is to increase regional stability through economic development. Peres will be the keynote speaker at the conference's luncheon.