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Kerry in Jordan to meet king: State Department

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis and violence in Syria on February 19, 2014, in Paris.(AFP PHOTO / POOL / EVAN VUCCI)

AQABA, Jordan: US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jordan on Friday for talks with King Abdullah II on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a US spokeswoman travelling with him said.

The short stop in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, where he was to meet the king, had not been previously announced.

Kerry, who arrived from Rome from where he also brought back his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh, will discuss the Middle East peace process with the monarch, spokesperson Marie Harf said.

"We are arriving in Aqaba, Jordan, with Foreign Minister Judeh today to see King Abdullah to talk about the peace process," Harf said.

Jordan is one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel, and King Abdullah holds a special position because the 1994 accord recognises his country's "historic" role in caring for Muslim holy sites in east Jerusalem.

Israel and the Palestinians remained deadlocked in ongoing peace talks that Kerry helped to launch last July.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday urged Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and to "abandon the fantasy" of flooding Israel with returning Palestinian refugees.

His remarks sparked a furious reaction from the Palestinians, who denounced his demand and said it had effectively put the final nail in the coffin of the talks.

The spat threw a harsh spotlight on the divide between the two sides and the Herculean task faced by Kerry, who is trying to get them to agree on a framework for extending direct peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

 

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