Jordan's king hosts Israeli PM for surprise talks

/ Source: The Associated Press

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a surprise visit to Jordan on Tuesday for talks with King Abdullah II on ways to revive Mideast peacemaking.

A senior royal palace official said Olmert's visit came in response to an invitation by Abdullah, who is eager to see Israel resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Olmert's visit came hours after Abdullah said in a written statement that he will soon make a rare public contact with Israeli leaders in a bid to revive stalled Mideast peacemaking. The statement released by the royal palace Monday night did not explain if the king planned to host Israeli leaders or visit the neighboring country, with whom Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994.

The king hosted Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in June in an effort to get both leaders to open direct negotiations, but the effort failed.

Abdullah has said a return to Arab-Israeli peace negotiations is vital to curb rising extremism in the Middle East, fueled by the conflict in Iraq. The monarch has called on Washington to concentrate more on reviving the peace process, which is stalled amid a Palestinian leadership crisis.