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World - Middle East

Israel's new prime minister treks for peace

Barak, left, met with King Abdullah at the Aqaba Palace on Tuesday

CNN's Andrea Koppel looks into the highly anticipated visit of Barak and Clinton
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Mideast peace


Next stop: Washington

July 13, 1999
Web posted at: 8:30 p.m. EDT (0030 GMT)

In this story:

U.S. hoping for a new era for peace

Barak's meeting with King Abdullah goes well

Jordan has a lot at stake


From staff and wire reports

AQABA, Jordan -- New Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak continued his trek for tips on peace Tuesday, stopping in Jordan for a meeting with King Abdullah before heading to the United States for a highly anticipated visit with President Bill Clinton.

Barak, who is looking for ways to revive the Middle East peace process, met Friday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria. He had talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Sunday at a Gaza border crossing.

The new Israeli leader, who took office a week ago, travels to the United States on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet with Clinton at the White House on Thursday.

U.S. hoping for a new era for peace

Privately, U.S. officials dispute reports they are "euphoric" or "giddy" over Barak's first visit as prime minister. But publicly, they seem almost gleeful.

"We too have high hopes that a new era is going to begin very shortly," said Martin Indyk, assistant U.S. Secretary of State.

But U.S. officials caution they still need to hear Barak's plans to achieve peace with Syria and with the Palestinians.

"The Clinton administration wants to see Barak move forward and keep the commitments that the previous Israeli government made," said Michael Hudson of Georgetown University.

Those commitments include turning over more land in the West Bank to Palestinian control -- a promise frozen by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Barak's meeting with King Abdullah goes well

After Barak met with King Abdullah on Tuesday, Jordanian officials said the future of the Middle East peace process looked bright.

"What we have heard today is cause for optimism that the results (of the Arab-Israeli negotiations) will be better," Jordanian Prime Minister Abdul-Raouf al-Rawabdeh told reporters after an hour and 45 minutes of talks between the two leaders.

Earlier, Jordanian officials had said they wanted the Wye River agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to be implemented. King Abdullah also wants Israel to resume talks with Syria. Those negotiations broke down more than three years ago.

Jordan has a lot at stake

Jordan became the second Arab country after Egypt to make peace with Israel when the two countries signed a treaty in 1994. Relations between the two neighbors have been relatively warm, though the late King Hussein was very critical of Netanyahu's policies.

The shape of a final agreement between the Palestinians and Israel is expected to cover the status of Jerusalem and the question of Palestinian refugees.

Those issues would have a significant impact on Jordan. The kingdom is the custodian of Islamic sites in Jerusalem, hosts more than 1.2 million Palestinian refugees and shares water resources with the Palestinians and Israel.

Correspondent Andrea Koppel and Reuters contributed to this report.

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July 11, 1999
Barak begins Middle East peacemaking mission in Egypt
July 9, 1999
Israelis, Palestinians come together for rescue effort
July 8, 1999
Barak ready to assume office
July 5, 1999
Barak tells Arafat he'll follow in Rabin's footsteps
July 2, 1999

Israel's Institutions of Government
PASSIA: Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs
Palestinian National Authority
The Middle East Network Information Center
Office of the Israeli Prime Minister
Knesset - The Israeli Parliament
The Egyptian Presidency
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