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Jordan urges active US role in Mideast peace push

By Hani Hazaimeh , AFP - Feb 13,2013 - Last updated at Feb 13,2013

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday received a telephone call from US Secretary of State John Kerry. 

His Majesty and Kerry discussed the latest regional developments, especially the efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East and recent developments in the Syrian crisis. 

During the telephone call, King Abdullah, who congratulated Kerry on his new post as secretary of state, highlighted ways to boost the Jordanian-US relations in various fields, a Royal Court statement said.

The phone call came as Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh met with Kerry in Washington, DC on Wednesday. 

At a joint press conference with his US peer at the State Department, Judeh, who is the first foreign minister to meet Kerry after he assumed office, said they discussed a wide range of issues and exchanged ideas on key developments in the region, particularly the Middle East peace, the situation in Syria and other topics. 

“I also had the opportunity to brief Secretary Kerry on the milestone that Jordan has met in its political reform process led by His Majesty King Abdullah, most importantly the recent elections held three weeks ago, and the consultation process taking place as we speak to form our next government leading to consensual and more representative parliamentary governments.

On the issue of the Middle East peace process, he said: “Secretary Kerry’s first-hand knowledge, experience, and insights will provide the much needed drive to reinvigorate Palestinian-Israeli negotiations leading to the realisation of the two-state solution where an independent, sovereign, viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state emerges living side by side with a secure Israel in a region that will hopefully enjoy peace, security, stability and prosperity.”

“This paramount objective has eluded us for too long and the time is now to work together with a much needed leading role by the US, supported by key partners around the world, and where we, in Jordan, will help with the heavy lifting in order to get this moving again,” Judeh told reporters, as quoted in a Foreign Ministry statement late Wednesday. 

He said Jordan and the US agree that the window of opportunity is closing fast, and that makes it all the more important to work together in addressing this issue.

On Syria, Kerry told reporters that he hoped Bashar Assad could be convinced to enter into a negotiated solution with the Syrian opposition that would end almost two years of bloody violence, which has killed nearly 70,000 people, and move forward with true democratic reform, the Associated Press reported. 

“We need to address the question of President Assad’s calculation currently. I believe there are additional things that can be done to change his current perception,” he said, adding: “I’ve got a good sense of what I think we might propose.”

Kerry did not elaborate on the ideas and pointedly offered no guarantee of success, particularly since Assad has defied calls to step down and clung to power throughout the crisis that has grown increasingly desperate. But, Kerry said his priority was to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

“I can assure you my goal is to see us change his calculation; my goal is to see us have a negotiated outcome and minimise the violence,” he said. “It may not be possible. I am not going to stand here and tell you that’s automatic or easily achievable. There are a lot of forces that have been unleashed here over the course of the last months.”

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