Jordan's king meets Biden, urges halt to settlements
Jordan's King Abdullah II held talks Thursday night with US Vice President Joseph Biden, in which the king called for "an immediate halt" to Israel's building of settlements in East Jerusalem, dpa reported.
Abdullah said the issue was set to "torpedo" ongoing peace efforts, according to a royal court statement.
Israel's announcement of the 1,600 new homes, to be built within the Jerusalem municipal limits but on West Bank land, was made Tuesday evening, a day after Biden arrived in Israel, and caught the vice president by surprise and prompted him to issue a sharp protest to his Israeli hosts.
The meeting between Abdullah and Biden coincided with news from Cairo that a pan-Arab follow-up committee on Thursday recommended Arab foreign ministers to go back on an earlier decision supportive of the indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the light of the unfolding Israeli settlement plans.
"Israel's provocative measures as represented by the building of new housing units in East Jerusalem are universally rejected because they are set to push the region into a new cycle of conflict and violence," the king told Biden at a working dinner.
Jordan was among the moderate Arab states, which backed the latest US proposal for holding indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians with a view to reaching a peaceful settlement.
The Jordanian leader urged the United States to play a "pivotal role so as to ensure the accomplishment of progress" towards the creation of an independent Palestinian state as part of the two-state vision.
Biden visited Jordan as part of a regional tour, which took him earlier to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Biden strongly criticised the building of new settlements but stopped short of asking the Israeli government to rescind the plan.
The Palestinians envision East Jerusalem as the future capital of their own state, which is a key goal of the peace negotiations that have not taken place for more than a year. The Palestinian Authority said it will not begin indirect peace talks with Israel - also announced this week - unless the Jerusalem housing project is shelved.