Jordan's king urges Europe to do more for Middle East peace

Says Italy must lead European effort to help Palestinians and Israelis return to the negotiating table after talks with Prodi.

jordan 88 (photo credit: )
jordan 88
(photo credit: )
Jordan's King Abdullah II urged European nations on Sunday to do more to help Palestinians and Israelis return to the negotiating table, a palace statement said. Abdullah's statement came after a closed-door meeting in the Jordanian capital of Amman with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi who was on a two day trip to energize the Middle East peace process. "European nations with Italy in the forefront must play a more active role to back Arab and international efforts to bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table," Abdullah was quoted as saying. The Jordanian monarch has embraced US President George W. Bush's call for convening a peace conference in the fall, saying it provided a rare opportunity for resuming stalled Palestinian-Israeli talks. He urged all parties to use the time before the conference to help bridge the gaps between the two sides. "Establishing an independent Palestinian state that will live in peace and security next to Israel is the basis for ending decades of conflict in the region and opening the way for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict in all its aspects," he added. For the past few decades of the peace process, the European nations have taken a back seat to the United States and concentrated on economic aid to the region, while America remains the main political power broker. Prodi warned on arrival in Jordan on Saturday that continued Palestinian divisions are hurting the chances to move forward on peace process. Following his talks with Prodi, Abdullah left for Paris, where he was scheduled to discuss with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon ways to stabilize Iraq and encourage a greater French involvement in the peace process. The king will also seek French intervention with the Paris Club of donors to ease cash-strapped Jordan's multibillion dollar foreign debt burden.