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World - Middle East

Jordan's new crown prince meets with Arafat

January 30, 1999
Web posted at: 12:11 p.m. EST (1711 GMT)

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- Crown Prince Abdullah met Saturday with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, his first meeting with an Arab leader since being named heir to Jordan's throne earlier this week.

"The aim of the visit is to pay respects to the new Crown Prince and to check on His Majesty King Hussein's health," said Omar Khatib, Arafat's representative to Jordan.

Abdullah is also expected to greet representatives from the ruling families of other Persian Gulf countries later Saturday.

The eldest son of King Hussein is considered well-liked in Jordan's Palestinian population because of his marriage to Princess Rania, from the Palestinian West Bank town Tulkarem.

The 37-year-old soldier prince was named Crown Prince Tuesday, replacing his uncle, 41-year-old Prince Hassan, who had served in that position for 34 years. King Hussein made the switch because of policy differences with Hassan.

The change came just hours before Hussein returned to the United States to continue his treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He had returned to Jordan a week earlier following six months of treatment.

The king also called on Abdullah to rule Jordan in his absence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Crown Prince Abdullah Friday to offer his congratulations and to stress the importance of Jordan's 1994 peace agreement with Israel.

Abdullah has already met with U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Saudi Arabian Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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