Abdullah to Cheney: Time is running out for Arab peace plan

Calls for Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders, creation of Palestinian state; Jordan King emphasizes "peaceful resolution" to Iran nuclear issue.

jordan cheney 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
jordan cheney 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Jordan's king warned visiting US Vice President Dick Cheney Monday that time was running out to use an Arab peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a royal palace statement. King Abdullah II also called for a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear standoff with the West, the statement said. "Jordan stands in support of a peaceful resolution to the issue of Iran's nuclear capabilities that would spare the region further tensions," Abdullah told Cheney in a closed-door meeting at the king's beachside residence in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba. Abdullah said the Arab peace initiative, which was first launched in 2002 and revived at an Arab summit earlier this year, "still represented an opportunity to advance peace and end the Arab-Israeli conflict." "Time is not on anyone's side," Abdullah warned. He did not elaborate, but he has previously said that the absence of peacemaking is increasing the popularity of extremists across the Muslim world. The Palestinians have embraced the Arab plan, which calls for full peace with all Arab nations if Israel withdraws from territories captured in the 1967 Middle East War and agrees to the creation of a Palestinian state. It also calls for a "just solution" to the issue of Palestinian refugees. Israel and the United States have said the plan could be a basis for reviving the peace process. But Israel has expressed reservations over many of its provisions, including the call to solve the Palestinian refugee issue. The king suggested to Cheney that there was a need to "set a time frame to establish tangible results on the ground" related to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making. Abdullah also emphasized that the United States "plays a key role in helping the Palestinians and Israelis return to the negotiating table to reach a final settlement to the Palestinian issue." Cheney's visit to Jordan is part of a regional tour that has taken him to Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The vice president is trying to build support for efforts to ease tensions in Iraq, end sectarian violence and encourage national reconciliation between disputing Iraqi factions. Abdullah reiterated the importance of "achieving national reconciliation and including all segments of Iraqi society in Iraq's political process", a reference to minority Sunnis, who complain they are being sidelined by their Shi'ite-dominated government. The king said that "reinforcing security and establishing stability in Iraq is in the interest of the country as well as a key Jordanian interest." Jordan has complained that terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida in Iraq are infiltrating the Iraqi-Jordanian border to carry out terror attacks in the country. In November 2005, al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for Amman's triple hotel blasts, which killed 63 people, including three Iraqi suicide bombers.