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French Version

Jordanian king reminds Israelis, Palestinians of costs if they fail to make peace

Jordan's King Abdullah II on Wednesday said that if efforts to revive the initiative failed, Israel as well as the Palestinians would come out the losers. His comments came as around 200 Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian opinion-makers began two days of talks in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba to discuss ways of promoting the plan.

In other activities in Jordan, Nobel laureates, meeting in the ancient city of Petra, wrapped up two days of brainstorming on the challenges facing Arab and Israeli youths with plans to set up a science fund for regional development King Abdullah held talks with Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert in Aqaba and pressed him to endorse the Saudi-drafted plan.

"If peace efforts fail or if Israel contributes to their failure, it would be the first loser after the Palestinians," Abdullah cautioned Wednesday in an interview with the independent Al-Arab Al-Yawm daily.

During his Tuesday visit to Jordan, Olmert had issued an appeal to Arab leaders to meet him in Israel - or anywhere else they choose - to help breathe new life into the peace plan.

"If these efforts fail, we have our own strategy to deal with that, but we do not want to be pessimistic," Abdullah said without elaborating.

In the interview, Abdullah also confirmed he received an invitation to visit Israel but said he would examine what benefits could result from such a visit before deciding whether to go.

"If we realize that the visit would achieve its objective in relaunching the peace process, then we'll make it for the service of the Palestinian issue and its people," he said.

He dismissed speculations that Jordan has ambitions in the West Bank, which it ruled for decades before Israel occupied the area during the 1967 war.

Former Jordanian Premier Abdel-Salam al-Majali, an architect of the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty, said that the meeting of opinion-makers "will discuss efforts to revive peace in the Middle East."

"The meeting comes at a suitable time amid fears of a surge in violence in the entire region," said Majali, a member of the Jordanian senate.

Last Thursday, Jordanian and Israeli activists met in Jordan for talks on the peace process and agreed to meet anew with Palestinian counterparts.

In Petra, Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel said participants at the "Petra III: Building a Better World" conference agreed with "our suggestion to create a Middle East science fund" to develop research and improve education for Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis."

The $10 million fund will be managed by the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, which co-organized the gathering with Wiesel's Foundation for Humanity, organizers said.

The king reminded the gathering that "the future of this land is the youth." Half of the inhabitants of the region are under 18 and the conference, the third in as many years, focused on improving their lives.

Earlier Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Physics, joined others to discuss ways of promoting and improving education in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Marseille,06 27 2007
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