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Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)

King Abdullah's Interview With The Times
Amman, 29 July 2002

His Majesty king Abdullah II said that His Royal Highness Prince Hassan's decision to attend meeting of the Iraqi opposition in London was unfortunate. "Prince Hassan blundered into something he did not realize he was getting into and we're all picking up the pieces," he added.

In an interview with the British "The Times" the King denied that there are any dealings with Ahmed Chalabi, a leader of the Iraqi opposition who is wanted in Jordan for embezzling funds from the Jordanian bank that he headed.

His Majesty mocked reports that Jordan would host US troops preparing for an attack on Iraq. "What amused me about this is that Jordan is not the fulcrum for any future American operations in Iraq," he said.

"Ask our friends in China, in Moscow, In England, in Paris: everybody will tell you that we have concerns about military actions against Iraq," he added, noting that the international community is united on this. "All of a sudden Jordan has become a sort of make-it-or-break-it. For me this is quite amusing," he said.

King Abdullah was scornful of the calls for the Palestinian president Yasser Arafat's removal, saying that it is unfortunate to target any leadership in any part of the world.

His Majesty said that many were suspicious of Mr. Arafat, but equal number or more were suspicious of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister. "At the end of the day they are elected by their people. And in my view we have what we have, and we have to work with what we have," King Abdullah added.

His Majesty pointed out that the US call to remove Arafat would backfire, adding that the majority of Palestinians, who feel that America is biased, simply to spite the Americans would probably vote for Arafat to show "this is what we think of what you said".

He noted the twists of the US policy and the influence of the hardliners in the region, affirming that he trusts Mr. Bush to achieve results. "Despite the varying agendas in Washington and the splits in the way members of the US administration look at the Middle East, they all rallied around the president," he added.

His Majesty said that Jordan saw US Secretary of State Colin Powell as vital. "It would be a "tremendous loss" if he left the administration," he added, noting that Powell understands what needed to be done in the Middle East. "The problem is that there is always the fight whether the Israeli-Palestinian situation is more important, or that of Iraq," the King said, adding that the US president understands the linkage and so does Colin Powell and that they have the tendency to look at the overall picture. He said that others in Washington are fixated on Iraq, and Iraq has to be resolved no matter what happens in the rest of the Middle East.

"If such voices got stronger "that would really destabilize American interest even more in the Middle East," His Majesty added.