Top US diplomat John Kerry met his Jordanian counterpart Tuesday for talks focused on the turmoil in Egypt and Syria as well as his bid to unlock the Middle East peace process.
Arriving on an overnight flight from Washington, the secretary of state first held talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh before a private dinner with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
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In his meeting with Judeh, Kerry raised the possibility of visiting a refugee camp housing some of the 400,000 refugees who have fled to Jordan to escape Syria's civil war.
Kerry, Abbas (Archive: Reuters)
Kerry told the Jordanian foreign minister that he was "happy to be back" on his sixth visit to the region since he took office on February 1.
"I think we may wind up visiting one of the refugee camps as we talk about Syria. We were just chatting about the importance of that," he added.
"We have lots of bilateral issues to discuss and of course many challenges that we face in this region," replied Judeh, saying they would discuss "the humanitarian spillover of the crisis and its effects on Jordan's economy."
On Wednesday, Kerry is to meet officials from the Arab League, which in 2002 put forward a proposal that offered full Arab recognition of Israel if it gave up land seized in a 1967 war and accepted a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees.
After a round of shuttle diplomacy between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the end of June, Kerry said that "with a little more work, the start of final status negotiations could be within reach".
But there is deep skepticism among diplomats and Middle East analysts that the Israelis and Palestinians will resume peace talks, and some regard the issue as less pressing than Syria's civil war, the Egyptian army's overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi and Iran's nuclear program.
Israeli officials said they were unaware of any plans by Kerry to visit Israel during his trip.
Kerry has sought to ensure that any new peace process would have broad backing from Arab states, which, if they were to offer Israel a comprehensive peace, could provide a strong incentive for Israeli compromises.
The core issues that need to be settled in the more than six-decade-old dispute include borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees, the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem.
Kerry made clear that the civil war in Jordan's northern neighbor Syria was also on his mind.
"We may wind up visiting one of the refugee camps as we talk about Syria," he said as he posed for pictures with Judeh at an Amman hotel. He did not say which camp he might visit, or when he might go.
AFP contributed to this report
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