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Jordan's king invited for talks with Israel

Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy, reacting to a potential diplomatic overture, Sunday invited Jordan's King Hussein to Jerusalem for public peace talks, but Jordanian officials indicated there was little chance the monarch would accept. The French magazine Le Point over the weekend quoted the king as saying that face-to-face contacts with Israeli leaders ought to take place soon, although he said it was still too early.

"We welcome this, and I invite him to come to Jerusalem. The government of Israel is ready here to talk with him in order to advance the peace process which is our ambition," Levy told reporters after a weekly Cabinet meeting.

But Jordanian Foreign Minister Taher Masri said in Amman: "I will have to see the text (of the king's statements), but I can tell you that what is meant is not jumping to Jerusalem with the Israelis.

"The peace process and reaching agreement is much deeper than one statement here and one statement there," Masri told Reuters.

In the interview published Saturday, Le Point said it had asked the king last month if he was prepared to meet Israeli leaders.

"Taboos must disappear because I do not see that one can leave on one side a country living within the Arab sphere . . . Such face-to-face contacts should permit us and everyone to rid ourselves of our fears," King Hussein replied.

Levy said, "Any leader of any nation neighboring us who expresses this will find Israel welcoming him and ready to meet him at any moment, at any place, without delay."

"So, if King Hussein has given expression to this stance, he is invited to Jerusalem. We will be very happy to receive him with a red carpet and an orchestra."

Israel and Jordan are officially at war but tacitly cooperate on border security.

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