King Abdullah meets with Barak
Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday met with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman, just four days before the launching of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Barak, who attended a Labor ministers' meeting and a cabinet meeting before departing, secretly flew to the Hashemite Kingdom and met with king Abdullah in his palace.
During the meeting, the two discussed the upcoming direct negotiations, slated to begin on Thursday. "Jordan has a central and important role in the regional peace, and helping Israel and the Palestinians reach an understanding during the talks," he said.
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The defense minister added that peace is Israel's strategic goal: "We are expecting Palestinians to sit to the negotiations table with an open heart."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Amman earlier this week and held a "coordination meeting" with King Abdullah, before direct talks commence on September 2, in Washington.
Last week, Hamas' politburo head Khaled Mashaal addressed Jordan and Egypt's leaders, and urged them not to support direct negotiations, which were aimed at "destroying" the Palestinian cause.
"I call President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah not to cooperate with these talks, which will prove deadly to the interests and security of Jordan and Egypt."
Abdullah will attend an official dinner with Mubarak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas in Washington, a day before launching direct talks.
US President Barack Obama is also scheduled to meet in private with Abdullah and Mubarak, although they are not expected to take part in the actual negotiations.
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