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Jordan Recalls Ambassador to Qatar

August 10, 2002

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AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ Jordan on Saturday recalled its ambassador to Qatar in a diplomatic row over a program on the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite channel that the government said was insulting to the royal family, the official news agency reported.

Ambassador Omar Al-Amad was recalled for consultations, the Petra news agency said, three days after Jordan shut down the Al-Jazeera office in Amman and revoked the credentials of its correspondents.

Al-Jazeera is funded by the Qatari government. The Arabic news channel describes itself as semiofficial.

The program, ``Opposite Direction,″ was hosted a U.S.-based Palestinian university professor, Assad Abu-Khalil, who rebuked the Jordanian royal family, including King Abdullah II and his late father, King Hussein. Abu-Khalil accused Jordan of pro-Israeli stances even before it signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. He also claimed that Hussein, who died of cancer in 1999, was on the CIA’s payroll, receiving $1 million a year.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher summoned the Qatari ambassador to Amman, Sheikh Abdul-Rahman Bin Jassim Bin Mohammad Al Thani, to inform him of the government’s ``strong anger and annoyance″ over the talk-show broadcast on Tuesday.

Muasher said the program was an ``insult to all Jordanians regardless of their political background.″

Al-Jazeera’s ``Opposite Direction″ has often stirred controversy in Arab capitals because of its critical approach to Arab politics and leadership.

Al-Jazeera has run into problems with authorities in other Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Bahrain. Unlike state-run media, the station often airs views of local opposition figures and their criticism of the countries’ rulers.

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