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French Version

Jordan king warns strike on Iran catastrophic for region


Jordan's King Abdullah II warned on Wednesday that a strike on Iran would cause the region "to explode" and deplored Israel's raid on a Palestinian prison. "A strike against Iran would cause the whole region to explode," the Jordanian monarch told AFP in comments on the crisis between the West and Tehran over its nuclear activities.

"The threat to regional security and stability will be grave if force is utilized to resolve this problem. Dialogue, patience and diplomacy are the only solution," he added. He likewise deplored Israel's raid Tuesday on a Jericho prison to seize prominent Palestinian prisoners wanted over the 2001 murder of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi.

"What happened ... is a threat to the future of the peace process and to security in the region. It is an unfortunate escalation," he said.

"It would have been better for the parties concerned to find another formula to deal with this issue. They created tensions and lessened the chances for an adequate climate to forge ahead with the peace process."

The king also urged Hamas "to deal with regional and international realities" as it prepares to form a government.

But he likewise called on the international community "to respect the Palestinians' will, to give Hamas a chance, and not to judge it before it presents its program and vision."

Jordan expelled Hamas leaders, including current political chief Khaled Meshaal, in 1999, but King Abdullah said Amman is ready to deal with it "through the Palestinian National Authority."

The Jordanian monarch also urged Palestinians and Israelis to compromise and return to the negotiating table, warning that time was running out.

"If we are going to keep throwing the ball to each other's court ... the reality of the situation is that we will find, two years from now, that we have no homeland to talk about," he said.

He also cautioned that there has been a "drop" in international interest for the Palestinian issue because of other world concerns such as Iran's row with the West and Iraq.

"A lawyer once told me that a good deal is always brokered when both sides are unhappy because both sides have had to give something," he added.

He renewed an invitation to host an Iraqi inter-faith conference in Amman "to come up with a religious consensus so that Iraqis could reach a political consensus."

"I call on our brothers in Iraq to recognize the gravity of the situation, and not to listen to those who promote division, internal discord and the division of Iraqis into Sunni, Shiite, Kurd and Turkman," he said.

He also admitted that the rampant violence in Iraq "placed a huge security burden on Jordan," where several Iraqis were indicted this week over the devastating November 9 hotel bombings in Amman.

"Many terrorist movements found in Iraq a fertile ground to achieve their goals, especially Al-Qaeda, which has adopted a strategy of using Iraqis to strike Jordan, as happened in the Amman hotel bombings," he said.

Earlier this month Jordan said it foiled a plot involving Iraqi nationals to strike at a "vital civilian installation."

"We have a security problem at the borders ... so we are working on preparing the infrastructure," he said.

Meanwhile, the Jordanian monarch said he was not worried about the latest victories of Islamic movements in Egypt and the Palestinian territories.

These polls "showed a surge of Islamic movements because the Islamists organized themselves well, while other parties were set back by ... a lack of leadership [and] corruption among some of their leaders," he said. "We in Jordan are not concerned about the possibility of an Islamist victory, as long as they respect the Constitution, our laws and regulations and as long as their allegiance is to Jordan."

King Abdullah said he will travel Monday to Paris for talks with French President Jacques Chirac, including Jordan's efforts to promote "a moderate, tolerant Islam, to which extremism and fanaticism are alien."

Amman,03 21 2006
The Daily Star
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