Jordan confirms talks with Hamas

Jordanian minister: Talks are an effort to "solve security issues;" says Palestinian unity on agenda.

abdullah us 22488 (photo credit: AP)
abdullah us 22488
(photo credit: AP)
Jordan acknowledged Wednesday that it held clandestine meetings with Hamas - the kingdom's first public confirmation of the recent talks. Nasser Judeh, Jordan's minister of information, told reporters that the meetings, which were headed by Jordanian intelligence chief Mohammed al-Dahabi, were held in an effort to "solve pending security issues." He declined to elaborate. Al-Dahabi held two secret talks in Amman over the last few weeks with Hamas leaders Mohammed Nazzal and Mohammed Nasr. Hamas deputy head Moussa Abu Marzouk said recently the contacts ended nearly a decade-long estrangement with the group, which Jordan accused of plotting terror attacks aimed at undermining its security. Judeh said the meetings with Hamas "were kept away from the limelight to reach positive results." "We'd like to keep the discussions limited to the security framework," he said. Afterward, Jordan may try to "tackle other issues, like the unity of Palestinian ranks" - a clear reference that the kingdom may try to mediate an end to the conflict between Hamas the its rival, Fatah, which is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Jordan's relations with Hamas soured after three members were arrested in 2006 in connection with the terror plot. A military court convicted them of planning to attack Israeli businessmen and Jordanian officials and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from five to 15 years. A close US ally, Jordan is one of only two Arab nations that have signed peace treaties with Hamas' enemy Israel. Jordan's ruler, King Abdullah II, is an ardent supporter of President George W. Bush's plan for a Palestinian state living in peace next to Israel.