TEL AVIV, Israel, July 13 (UPI) -- Israel is keeping an official silence on why Prime Minister Ehud Olmert paid a secret visit to Jordan, where he met King Abdullah II.
Israel's Channel 2 TV reported that Olmert went secretly to Jordan on Wednesday. But it was not clear why he helicoptered there, what they discussed and why the visit was considered secret. The Prime Minister's Office would not comment on the report.
The Haaretz daily, however, said that Olmert had told his ministers he would focus on bilateral issues. Relations have been usually good, and on July 5 Israel removed another hindrance when it handed over four Jordanians who had been serving life sentences for killing two Israeli soldiers. They did so before the two countries formally concluded peace in 1994 and Amman has been pressing for their extradition.
The deal provided Jordan would jail them for 18 months. The Jordanian government said this was a "positive achievement and substantial shift."
According to the TV report, Olmert also intended to discuss rebuilding a bridge over the Jordan River at Damiya. That would be a step towards opening another crossing between the West Bank and the Hashemite Kingdom, which currently share only one crossing, the Allenby Bridge near Jericho. Damiya is in the northern West Bank, along the road from Nablus to Jordan, and a crossing there had existed in the past.
The two leaders want to help Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whom Olmert is supposed to meet next week. One topic that would involve Jordan calls for strengthening Abbas by sending over the Palestinian Army's Badr Brigade that has been based in Jordan. Abbas also reportedly wants armored personnel carriers for his security forces.
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