In their first meeting sponsored by Jordan, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had breakfast this morning in Petra with Jordanian King Adballah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). The meeting was described as warm and friendly. The three leaders agreed to promote the establishment of a free trade zone in the Jordan Valley, east of Jenin, which will enjoy tax and export benefits. Olmert and Abu Mazen also agreed to meet within two weeks.
The participants at today’s meeting discussed joint economic projects between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. Olmert told Abdallah that he agreed to move the Eilat Airport, and merge it with the international airport that will be built in Aqaba. He also said he would promote the construction of a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. They also discussed joint copper mining at Timna and in Jordanian territory.
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said, “There were no diplomatic negotiations between the parties. The meeting between Olmert and Abu Mazen will be scheduled for late June or early July.
In Petra, Abbas’s aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh said a meeting could be scheduled in two weeks time.
Today was Olmert’s first meeting with Abu Mazen since becoming prime minister. Abdallah invited Olmert to participate in a panel at the Second Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates and the Nobel Laureates Initiative, which opened yesterday. Vice Premier Shimon Peres is also at the conference, and met Adballah and Abu Mazen yesterday. Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Elie Wiesel and the Dalai Lama are also present. Olmert is due to meet with Wiesel later.
Olmert’s office said his meeting with Abu Mazen was only a ceremonial and symbolic gesture, and that no diplomatic matters were discussed. The two men will discuss diplomatic issues at the meeting planned between the two leaders.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on June 22, 2006
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