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Jordan's king to Olmert: Stop excavations

AMMAN, Jordan, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Jordan's King Abdullah II urged Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to stop excavations near Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque and warned of repercussions.

The monarch's call came in a telephone conversation Tuesday, a Royal Court statement said, adding that Abdullah told Olmert the excavations pose a "serious threat to the Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem and adds to the tension in the region."

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Last week, a group of lawmakers in the 110-seat elected Parliament called on the government to sever diplomatic ties with Israel, saying the Jewish state is violating the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty by its excavation work near Islam's third holiest site.

The peace agreement gave Jordan legal custodianship on Islamic shrines in east Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordanian control in the 1967 war.

The king had earlier Tuesday expressed his concern over the excavations near al-Aqsa, also known as Temple Mount, to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a meeting in Amman, according to a separate palace statement.

Abdullah told Rice -- who came to brief the king on her Monday talks with Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas -- that the international community must shoulder responsibility in preventing Israel from "harming the sanctity of the blessed Aqsa Mosque," the palace said.

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