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Jordan's Abdullah postpones Bush meeting
Updated: 2004-04-20 08:53

Jordan's King Abdullah postponed a meeting with U.S.President George W. Bush schedule for Wednesday, citing concerns about Washington's position on the Middle East peace process, officials said on Monday.
Jordan's Abdullah postpones Bush meeting
King Abdullah II of Jordan addresses the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Friday, April 16, 2004. Abdullah discussed issues on the Iraq war and the Middle East peace process. King Abdullah II postponed a meeting scheduled with US President Bush in Washington because of questions about the U.S. commitment to the Middle East peace process, according to a palace statement Monday, April 19, 2004. [AP]
The move, announced by U.S. and Jordanian officials, comes less than one week after Bush outraged Palestinians by saying Israel could keep some of the Arab land it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Abdullah's meeting with Bush has tentatively been rescheduled for the first week of May, U.S. and Jordanian officials said.

The Jordanian embassy said in a statement that the delay would allow "Jordanian officials to continue the ongoing talks with U.S. administration officials to clarify the U.S. position regarding final status issues, especially in light of recent statements by U.S. officials."

The embassy said Jordan's Foreign Minister, Marwan al-Muasher, was in Washington to "resume talks with administration officials and to prepare for (Abdullah's) visit in May."

Last week Jordan criticized Washington for backing Israeli plans to keep parts of the occupied West Bank before a final Arab-Israeli peace accord was reached by the parties to the conflict.

Bush, with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at his side, also dismissed the right of Palestinian refugees to return to what is now Israel.

Jordan's Abdullah postpones Bush meeting
Protesters burn mock U.S. and Israeli flags as they chant slogans in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, April 19, 2004, during a demonstration against the killing of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi by an Israeli missile strike. [AP]
"We understand that, because of developments in the region, the King has decided he would remain in Jordan this week," said Sean McCormack, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

Separately, the State Department said Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath postponed plans to meet U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell this week. One U.S. official said this also appeared to be because of displeasure at last week's events.

Israel assassinated top Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi in a missile strike on Saturday.

"We had heard before (the death of Rantissi) that the visit was unlikely to happen to give the Palestinians a chance to think about things and digest them further," said the U.S. official. "(I imagine) Rantissi didn't exactly help matters."

Jordan, which has hosted successive waves of Palestinian refugees since the creation of Israel in 1948, fears the rejection of the right of refugees to return will pave the way for their permanent integration in the kingdom.

The majority of Jordan's five million population are Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

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