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Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)

King Warns Against Opening a New Battlefront in the Middle East
Amman, 19 October 2002

His Majesty king Abdullah II warned Saturday that a US military strike on Iraq could weaken international efforts to combat terrorism worldwide. In an interview with AFP conducted by Director of the AFP Office in Amman Randa Habib, on the eve of a visit to Jordan by French President Jacques Chirac, the King stressed that France could play a key role for a settlement to the Middle East and Iraqi crises.

"We fear that opening a new battlefront in the Middle east will contribute to complicating the situation and perhaps will weaken the international efforts to combat terrorism, as President Chirac said last week," The king told the AFP.

His Majesty stressed that the Middle East was "fertile ground for terrorist operations" because of the conflicts underway in the region. "Ensuring just solutions to these crises will pull the rug from under the feet of those who seek to hide behind national and religious causes to carry out their goals of destabilization," the Monarch said.

Chirac said in an interview Wednesday with a Lebanese newspaper that an attack on Iraq might also have repercussions for what the United States terms a worldwide "war on terror." "We cannot exclude the fact hat terrorist groups could use the Iraqi crisis as a pretext to new action and an argument for propaganda," Chirac told L'Orient-Le Jour newspaper. The French president will visit Amman briefly on Sunday evening after a stop in Damascus, following his participation in a three-day summit of French-speaking countries in Beirut.

His Majesty insisted that Jordan will "continue to demand a settlement to the Iraqi crisis through a dialogue with the United Nations," warning anew that a war would have devastating political, economic or social repercussions.

"We will not cease from asking Iraq to accept purely and simply all (UN) Security Council resolutions, in order to help defuse this serious crisis and avert a war that will have catastrophic consequences," he said.

"In that context France's weight on the international scene is important," the King said. His Majesty said that Jordan adopted plans and measures to prevent Jordan from becoming a host country for refugees fleeing Iraq.

When asked about the possibility that Israel could exploit a war on Iraq to deport Palestinians to Jordan, the King expressed faith that the Palestinians will oppose any such plans. "The Palestinian people are opposed to all plans against them ... because their aim is to set up an independent Palestinian state on the national soil," His Majesty added.

King Abdullah also praised France's role in securing a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement, along with Jordan and the European Union and said Amman and Paris positions were similar.

"France and Jordan share similar positions on the need to set up a clear plan of action concerning the future negotiations, which will define the engagements of each party in order to establish a Palestinian state within three years," he said.

Chirac's visit to Jordan and other countries "constitutes an important contribution that reinforces the French role and encourages the Palestinians and Israelis to return to the table of negotiations," he said.

His Majesty, who recently championed the "Jordan First" slogan, insisted that "every citizen must think first of out priorities and interests and the future of the country." "We are not trying to isolate ourselves or to give up our principles and our national causes," he said, adding that a "powerful Jordan is a support for our Palestinian and Arab brothers".