Netanyahu, King Abdullah II discuss Mideast peace: diplomat

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah II met in Jordan last week and discussed the Middle East peace process, a diplomatic source told AFP on Saturday.

"Last week, Netanyahu travelled to Jordan and met King Abdullah II," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "In the meeting, they discussed the Middle East peace process."

It was Netanyahu's first trip abroad and first meeting with a foreign head of state since Israel's January 22 general election.

In December, Israeli officials were quoted by media as confirming a report in an Arab daily about a meeting between Netanyahu and the king in Jordan that focused on Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold since September 2010.

Jordan and the peacemaking international Quartet sponsored several rounds of meetings between envoys from each side last year which brought no breakthrough.

The Palestinians demand that Israel stop building settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem before a resumption of negotiations, but Israel rejects any preconditions for talks.

The latest talks between Netanyahu and Abdullah II come ahead of an expected visit by US President Barack Obama, who announced he would be in the region in the spring, with Israeli media putting the date at March 20.

The White House has played down speculation Obama would present a new peace initiative during his visit, stressing instead as the trip's primary agenda Iran's nuclear challenge and the civil war threatening to tear Syria apart.

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