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Jordanian King in Syria for Talks

July 26, 1999

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) _ Fresh from a meeting with the leaders of the United States and Israel, Jordan’s King Abdullah met with President Hafez Assad today for talks on the resumption of the Middle East peace process.

Syrian officials said Assad and Abdullah began their talks immediately after the king arrived in Damascus. Abdullah’s visit _ his second to Damascus since assuming office in February _ had not been announced in advance.

Syrian officials and the official media did not divulge any details of the talks, but Jordanian officials in Amman, the Jordanian capital, said Abdullah would brief Assad on his contacts with President Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Abdullah met Clinton and Barak on Sunday in Rabat, Morocco, at the funeral of King Hassan II, and discussed efforts to revive peace talks between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Abdullah’s visit comes amid a diplomatic flurry aimed at reviving peace negotiations between Syria and Israel after a three-year deadlock.

Assad canceled a planned trip to Morocco for the funeral after Israel’s foreign minister prematurely disclosed that there was a possibility of a Barak-Assad meeting.

Syria has declared its readiness to reopen peace talks with Israel but insists that Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan Heights be the basis for the resumption of talks. The Israelis say the two sides can bring their different interpretations to the negotiating table.

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