Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

March 20, 2013

AP INTERVIEW: Jordan king says Assad days numbered

(Continued)

Asked if the Assad regime could still survive, Abdullah said: "I believe we are past that point, too much destruction, too much blood."

However, he said that was ultimately something for the Syrian people to determine.

"The key question is whether Syria will plunge into chaos or there will be a transition, and what kind of transition," he said.

"For the sake of Syria, the region and the international community, we should all work toward an immediate inclusive transition, where each group in Syrian society feels that it has a stake in the country's future," including Assad's ruling Alawite minority.

On other topics, Abdullah said the start of President Barack Obama's visit to the region opens a "window of opportunity" for restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The tour includes stops in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

"I see a window of opportunity to restart negotiations on the basis of a two-state solution, which is the only formula," he said.

"First, we have a second-term U.S. president. Second, the historic U.N. vote upgrading the status of Palestine reflected a fresh international will," he said.

He said the Arab Spring uprisings added urgency to resuming the peace process.

"The Arab Spring is first and foremost a cry for dignity, justice and freedom, which only a just and real peace can bring."

He called on the new Israeli government "to seize on this fast closing window and to act quickly and decisively for the sake of a just and a lasting peace."

Abdullah said Jordan has a lot at stake from the final status negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, especially on issues related to their common border with the kingdom, the fate of Jerusalem — where Jordan's peace treaty with Israel allows it to be the custodian of Christian and Muslim holy shrines in East Jerusalem — and the fate of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.

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