Jordanian king adds his backing to Allies' efforts

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The Independent Online

Tony Blair continued his drive to bolster the international coalition against terrorism yesterday when he held talks with King Abdullah of Jordan at Downing Street.

Mr Blair's spokesman said the 45-minute meeting was very useful. "King Abdullah is an important player in his own right in the region," he said, welcoming the king's support for what the United States and Britain were trying to achieve.

The day after the Prime Minister called for a viable Palestinian state following his talks with Yasser Arafat, King Abdullah told Mr Blair that the creation of such a state was inevitable.

An official in King Abdullah's delegation said he had delivered a clear message to Mr Blair that "an equitable solution for the Palestinians is the only guarantee of stability in the Middle East" and that "a Palestinian state is inevitable and it is in everybody's interest to bring that into reality".

The official added that the King had called for the international community to act "very, very quickly to put the peace process back on track" after a year-long Palestinian revolt against Israeli occupation.

Downing Street regards Jordan, a representative of moderate Arab opinion, as a key ally in the war on terrorism.

Mr Blair's spokesman said yesterday's talks were yet another sign that the international coalition "remained strong and is constantly being strengthened."

He said: "Every morning I seem to wake up to predictions of the coalition's demise. Equally, every morning I see further meetings taking place which underline that is not true."

The Jordanian official said his country unequivocably condemned last month's attacks in the United States, but added that the international response should address "the root causes of conflict". The King is believed to be worried that the war on terrorism might be broadened to include attacks on an Arab country such as Iraq.

Mr Blair also held discussions with Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister, at Downing Street yesterday. Last night, Mr Blair briefed the Queen on the international scene when he met her for the first time since the 11 September attacks in New York and Washington at an audience at Buckingham Palace.

King Abdullah was among dignitaries who attended a memorial service yesterday for Sir David Spedding, the former head of MI6.

Former Conservative ministers Lord King, Lord Waldegrave and Michael Mates were also among the hundreds of people who attended the commemoration of the life of the former security chief at Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, central London.