Jordan, Egypt tell Cheney they support peaceful solution to Iran standoff

May 15, 2007 - 0:0
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - Two top U.S. allies in the Mideast, Jordan and Egypt, have told U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney they want to see a peaceful solution to Washington's standoff with Iran and the U.S. should focus on reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, officials said.

Cheney was in Jordan Monday a day after visiting Egypt as part of a Middle East tour designed to convince the United States' moderate Arab allies to support Iraq's embattled government. But Cheney also sounded out Arab governments on increasing Iranian influence in the region and took a hardline stance against Iran's nuclear program and efforts to dominate the Persian Gulf region.

During their talks, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Cheney against any military confrontation concerning Iran because it would have "grave repercussions on the region," his spokesman Suleiman Awaad said Sunday after Mubarak met with the vice president.

Jordan said it opposes any military action against Iran, said a Jordanian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The official declined to say if Jordan's King Abdullah expressed this view to Cheney, but his comments came hours after the vice president met with the king.

Abdullah said earlier that "Jordan stands in support of a peaceful resolution to the issue of Iran's nuclear capabilities that would spare the region further tensions," according to a royal palace statement.

Iran and U.S. announced Sunday they would hold talks in Baghdad concerning Iraq's deteriorating security situation, but expectations are low as U.S.-Iran hostilities remain high.

During Cheney's talks in Jordan, Abdullah also said time was running out to use the Arab peace plan, first launched in 2002 and revived at an Arab summit earlier this year, to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Time is not on anyone's side," Abdullah warned in a closed-door meeting with Cheney at his beachside residence in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba. He did not elaborate, but he has previously said that the absence of peacemaking is increasing the popularity of extremists across the Muslim world.

Mubarak also told Cheney that the solving the Palestinian conflict was the key to resolving the rest of the region's crises, Awaad said.

The Palestinians have embraced the Arab plan, which calls for full peace with all Arab nations if Israel withdraws from territories captured in the 1967 Middle East War and agrees to the creation of a Palestinian state. It also calls for a "just solution" to the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Israel and the United States have said the plan could be a basis for reviving the peace process. But Israel has expressed reservations over many of its provisions, including the call to solve the Palestinian refugee issue.