MUSCAT (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Jordan on Wednesday for talks with Jordanian King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about tensions in Jerusalem, the State Department said.
Violence has flared in the past few weeks over Jerusalem’s most sacred and politically sensitive site, revered by Muslims as Noble Sanctuary, where al-Aqsa mosque stands, and by Jews as the Temple Mount, where their biblical temples once stood.
Tensions over the compound, the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest place in Judaism, have fuelled repeated clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in recent weeks, culminating in a one-day closure of the mosque last month.
Kerry will meet Abbas in Amman and plan to have a dinner on Thursday with King Abdullah in the seaside resort of Aqaba, a senior State Department official said.
Jordan recalled its ambassador from Israel on Nov. 5, the first time it has taken such action since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1994, denouncing what Amman called “violations” at the al-Aqsa mosque.
“The focus, it’s fair to say, will be the situation in Jerusalem, the tensions,” the State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Kerry, however, has no plans to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the official said, noting that the two speak regularly and had telephone conversations on Nov. 6 and Nov. 10. “I wouldn’t read too much into it.”
The official also said Kerry had cancelled a visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he had planned to take part in the Sir Bani Yas Forum, an annual private gathering of world leaders focused on international security.
Reporting by Warren Strobel; Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Paul Tait, Bernard Orr