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Jordan rejects Egypt mediation with Syria

CAIRO, June 20 (UPI) -- A meeting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad said to be aimed at easing Syria-Jordan tensions was canceled.

An Egyptian official said the summit that was scheduled Tuesday at Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh was canceled due to Jordan's rejection of an Egyptian mediation to settle its problems with Damascus.

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Mubarak was quoted as saying Saturday that he will receive Assad to discuss Syria's crisis with Jordan and Lebanon.

The Egyptian president, who dispatched envoys to both Assad and Jordan's King Abdullah, said Egypt is in constant contacts with Amman and Damascus and making efforts to settle differences between them.

However, reports about a possible three-way Egyptian-Jordanian-Syrian summit were denied by Amman whose Foreign Minister Abdel Ilah al-Khatib stressed that "Jordan and Syria are neighboring countries whose peoples are linked with strong relations" and can settle their differences at a meeting of the higher Jordanian-Syrian committee scheduled for June 28.

"We are keen on maintaining strong relations with all Arab brethren countries, especially neighboring states and if there is a need to discuss pending issues the best way to do it is through bilateral talks between our two countries," Khatib was quoted as saying Sunday following a summit-meeting between Mubarak and King Abdullah.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Ghait also denied the existence of an Egyptian mediation between Syria and Jordan, whose relations were strained following mutual accusations of arms smuggling.

Amman charged in April that Islamic militant group Hamas smuggled arms to Jordan through Syrian territory for use in attacks on targets inside the desert kingdom.

Damascus denied the accusations, as well as Hamas, charging they were part of an Arab pressure campaign on Syria.

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