Jordan’s King talks arms and peace in Moscow

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and arms trade dominated a meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and King Abdullah II of Jordan at the Kremlin on Thursday.

The talks came after Israel announced its plan to build 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem, a move Moscow has called unacceptable.

Next week, on March 19, Moscow will host a meeting of the so-called “Middle East negotiating quartet” which includes Russia, the US, the European Union and the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton are all scheduled to attend.

Jordan is also said to be considering buying Russian helicopters and air defense systems, and upgrading the Soviet-made weapons it already owns.

During the King’s visit to Moscow, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Jauda met his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to sign bilateral agreements on scientific and cultural co-operation for 2010-2012.

This was the 10th visit of the King to Russia during his 11 years on the throne, and his third meeting with Dmitry Medvedev.

The same day, after returning to Amman, King Abdullah II held a meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden, who came to Jordan after fruitless talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, who refused to return to the negotiating table.

The monarch of Jordan underlined that provocative Israeli steps, such as building new houses in East Jerusalem, “undermine all peace efforts.”

“Israel’s actions push the Middle East to a new round of the conflict,” said Abdullah II. He added that decisive steps by American President Barack Obama could help the peace process. Otherwise “if the opportunity of establishing a Palestinian state is lost, the Middle East will face a new wave of violence.”