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Powell to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace with Jordan

Powell to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace with Jordan

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Free trade agreement

U.S.-Mexican diplomacy

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- From CNN State Department Correspondent Andrea Koppel

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Jordan is expected to push the Bush administration to maintain U.S. involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process at a high-level meeting in Washington on Tuesday.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdulilah al-Khatib is also expected to tell new U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that Jordan wants the new U.S. administration to hold Israel to its existing agreements -- even if a new prime minister is elected.

Free trade agreement

The Jordanian government is also looking for Bush administration support for a free-trade agreement negotiated last year by the Clinton administration. The agreement is currently before Congress, pending approval.

The Bush administration has made clear it intends to place a great deal of emphasis on building and cultivating ties with U.S. allies around the world. Jordan is considered one of the few moderate Arab states in the Middle East and is one of the only Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.

That peace accord was signed in October 1994. However, in the wake of recent upsurge in Palestinian-Israeli violence -- which began four months ago -- Jordan withdrew its ambassador from Israel.

Powell and al-Khatib also will discuss bilateral cooperation and U.S. assistance to Jordan at the meeting, the State Department said. Jordan receives an estimated $225 million in military and economic assistance from the United States. The United States also gave Jordan 180,000 tons of wheat last year.

Khatib will be the third foreign minister to meet with Powell since President Bush was inaugurated on January 20.

U.S.-Mexican diplomacy

Later Tuesday, Powell is expected to meet with Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda to lay the groundwork for Bush's February visit to Mexico.

"Certainly, the president's early trip to Mexico is an indication of the authentic partnership that exists between our two countries," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday.

"The secretaries will be going over the agenda for the trip and review many of the issues that make up this extremely deep and complex relationship," he added.

As the former governor of Texas, Bush is well versed in U.S.-Mexican affairs, including drug certification, illegal aliens and bilateral trade.

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PLO Negotiations Affairs Department
Israeli Prime Minister's Office
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
World Economic Forum
Palestinian National Authority

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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