Jordanian king meets foreign ministers of 5 Arab states

                By Laith al-Junidi</p>    <p>AMMAN, Jordan (AA) - Jordan's King Abdullah II on Wednesday met with foreign ministers of five Arab countries ahead of a Thursday meeting in the Dead Sea region planned to discuss the regional issues.</p>    <p>King Abdullah II held talks, during the meeting, with the foreign ministers of, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Jordanian foreign minister was also present in the meeting.</p>    <p>According to a statement by the Jordanian Royal Court, the talks focused on the latest developments in Syria, Iraq and Palestine.</p>    <p>The king stressed the need to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution and the Arab peace initiative, leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.</p>    <p>He also emphasized the importance of joint coordination on various issues and crises facing the region.</p>    <p>The ministers are scheduled to participate in a consolatory meeting in the Dead Sea area on Thursday to discuss current developments in the region and ways to deal with them.

UPDATE 2 – Flashfloods in Jordan leave at least 21 dead

UPDATES DEATH TOLL

By Laith Joneidi

AMMAN (AA) – At least 21 people have been killed by flashfloods — and at least 35 others injured — in Jordan’s Dead Sea region, local officials said Friday.

Most of those killed were students and teachers whose bus was swept away by the floods during a school trip, Jordan’s Civil-Defense Directorate said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters, Civil Defense Operations Director Farid al-Sharaa said the students and teachers — along with a number of tourists — had been visiting hot springs in the area.

According to the Directorate, a bridge has collapsed due to the flooding while a major road in the area has been closed by the authorities.

Jordanian rescue teams, meanwhile, are continuing the search for survivors.

Following the incident, Jordan's King Abdullah II canceled a scheduled visit to Bahrain and declared three days of mourning.

On Thursday, several areas of the Hashemite Kingdom were hit by flashfloods following a bout of torrential rainfall.

Turkey voices sadness over deadly flood in Jordan

By Diyar Guldogan

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey on Friday expressed sadness over deadly flood near Jordan’s Dead Sea.

In a statement, foreign ministry conveyed condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the flood and to the brotherly Jordanian people, and wished speedy recovery to the wounded.

At least 19 people died and another 35 wounded over a flash flood near Dead Sea, the officials said on Friday.

Most of the dead were students and teachers whose bus was swept away during a school trip, Jordanian Civil Defense Directorate said in a statement.

UPDATE – Jordan: Flash flood kills at least 19

UPDATES WITH LATEST TOLL, NATIONAL MOURNING DECLARATION; ADSS DETAILS

By Laith Joneidi

AMMAN (AA) – At least 19 people died and another 35 wounded over a flash flood near Jordan’s Dead Sea, the officials said on Friday.

Most of the dead were students and teachers whose bus was swept away during a school outing, Jordanian Civil Defense Directorate said in a statement.

Speaking to the press Thursday, Civil Defense Operations Director Farid al-Sharaa said the students, teachers and other tourists were visiting hot springs in the area.

The Directorate also announced the collapse of a bridge and the closure of a road in the Dead Sea area.

The Jordanian rescue teams have been searching for the missing, according to the statement.

Following the incident, Jordan's King Abdullah II canceled an official visit to Bahrain — scheduled to begin Friday.

Jordanian Royal Court declared three days of national mourning over the incident.

On Thursday, areas in the kingdom were hit by flash flood due to heavy rains — which led to a sudden flow of water into several valleys in the kingdom.

Jordan: Flash flood kills at least 18

By Laith Joneidi

AMMAN (AA) – At least 18 people died Thursday in a flash flood near Jordan’s Dead Sea, said a local official.

Most of the dead were students and teachers whose bus was swept away during a school outing.

Search teams rescued 34 others, some of whom are in critical condition.

Speaking to the press, Civil Defense Operations Director Farid al-Sharaa said the students, teachers and other tourists were visiting hot springs in the area.

Al-Sharaa said search and rescue operations are continuing.

Following the incident, Jordan's King Abdullah II canceled an official visit to Bahrain that was scheduled to begin Friday.

US urges Israel to apply Red-Dead Sea plan with Jordan

By Abdul Raouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – The U.S. has called on Israel to implement an earlier agreement with Jordan to link the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Friday.

According to the broadcaster, Israel has proposed an alternative project — which Amman has reportedly rejected — to instead link the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean.

The alternative plan reportedly came up for discussion during a visit to Amman earlier this month by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but was ruled out by Jordanian King Abdullah II.

According to Channel 10, top U.S. administration officials have recently discussed the stalled Red-Dead Sea project with their Israeli counterparts.

The broadcaster quoted a U.S. National Security Council spokesman as saying that Washington had conveyed its continued support for the scheme to Israeli officials.

The U.S., the broadcaster reported, was now calling on Israel to implement the earlier agreement with Jordan “or find an alternative acceptable to both it and Amman”.

Washington is a main partner in the project and has reportedly earmarked $100 million for its implementation.

Israel suspended the project last summer as a means of pressuring Jordan to allow its embassy in Amman to reopen after an embassy guard murdered two Jordanian citizens.

Although Jordan allowed the embassy to reopen shortly afterward, the fate of the project remains in political limbo.

UPDATE – Arab League summit opens in Jordan

*UPDATE WITH JORDANIAN KING REMARKS, MORE DETAILS

By Laith al-Junaidi

DEAD SEA, Jordan (AA) – The annual Arab League summit kicked off on Wednesday in the Dead Sea region in Jordan.

The one-day summit is attended by 18 Arab leaders, while King Mohamed VI of Morocco has failed to show up for unannounced reasons.

The raging conflicts in several Arab countries are expected to figure high on the agenda of the meeting, particularly the situation in Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Addressing the opening session, Jordanian King Abdullah II said solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the key to establishing peace in the Middle East.

“Israel continues to expand settlements and undermine chances for achieving peace,” he said.

“There will be no peace or stability without reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue,” the monarch said.

The Jordanian leader went on to call for rallying efforts to counter terrorism.

“Terrorism threatens Arabs and Muslims more than anyone else,” he said. “Most victims of terrorism are Muslims.”

Jordan is hosting the summit after Yemen refused to host it due to the ongoing conflict in the country, which fell into civil war in 2014 after Houthi rebels overran capital Sanaa and other provinces.

The last Arab summit was hosted by Mauritania last year.

Arab League summit opens in Jordan

By Laith al-Junaidi

DEAD SEA, Jordan (AA) – The annual Arab League summit kicked off on Wednesday in the Dead Sea in Jordan.

The one-day summit is attended by 18 Arab leaders, while King Mohamed VI of Morocco has failed to show up for unannounced reasons.

The raging conflicts in several Arab countries are expected to figure high on the agenda of the meeting, particularly the situation in Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Jordan is hosting the summit after Yemen refused to host it due to the ongoing conflict in the country, which fell into civil war in 2014 after Houthi rebels overran capital Sanaa and other provinces.

The last Arab summit was hosted by Mauritania last year.