Palestinian gov't officials deny Abbas will meet Olmert in Petra
Jordanian newspaper: Olmert, Abbas, and Abdullah expected to hold meeting to discuss peace initiatives.
Senior Palestinian government officials denied on Saturday reports of an expected three-way meeting in Jordan between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and King Abdullah II, maintaining that Abbas does not intend to come to Petra.
Earlier Saturday, Jordan's Ad-Dustour newspaper had reported that the three leaders were expected to hold a meeting next week at the Jordanian ancient city of Petra, at a Nobel Laureates conference on May 16 in the city.
Olmert's office confirmed he would visit Jordan to attend the Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates, honoring Nobel Laureate and Vice Premier Shimon Peres, and meet King Abdullah.
Their talks are expected to touch on the Arab League peace initiative that calls for normalized ties between Israel and the Arab world in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
On Sunday, Abdullah is due to visit Ramallah for talks with Abbas, officials in the PA chairman's office said on Friday.
A Palestinian senior official said that the king would arrive by helicopter, and would hold a short visit in Ramallah with Abbas.
The official said that the two would discuss the political situation in the region, and Arab countries' efforts to promote regional peace, including the Arab Peace Initiative.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora also called on Israel to adopt the Saudi peace initiative, writing in an opinion piece published Friday in The New York Times.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres called the initiative 'historical,' and said Friday that "if the Arab side comes with a declaration such as that of the Saudi king, Israel will willingly come with an offer for serious talks in order to find common ground."
Nasser Judeh, a Jordanian government spokesman, said that Abdullah's plans to hold talks with Abbas in Ramallah came within the framework of His Majesty's efforts to activate the peace process by direct contacts with the concerned parties.
Judeh said the visit reflects the king's continuous and well known position and efforts to push all the sides to the negotiation table and his full support for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Abdullah has visited Ramallah once before, a brief stopover to see then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2000, soon after Abdullah ascended to the throne. In 1999, he visited Arafat in the Gaza Strip.
The visit comes as foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Israel on Thursday held the first-ever talks on a 2002 peace initiative, which was relaunched at the Arab League's March summit in Riyadh and offers comprehensive Arab recognition of Israel in return for a full withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
An Arab League delegation is also due to pay an unprecedented visit to Israel to discuss the plan, the sides announced Thursday.
Three weeks ago, Israeli and Jordanian officials said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had invited Abdullah to make a historic visit to Jerusalem in mid-May and the king was weighing the invitation.
But Abdullah would not include Jerusalem in Sunday's trip, Olmert's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin said.
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