July 19, 2012 - 12:00am

Jordanian King Abdullah II said on Wednesday that despite the turmoil and challenges facing the Middle East, the core issue of the region remains the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

"He understands that with Arab Spring and all the challenges that we have, that the core issue of the Middle East still is the peace process, the two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians," the king told CNN about the upcoming visit to Israel by Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican presidential candidate who is going to face President Barack Obama in the November elections.

The king called for efforts to "keep the process alive" until when the American elections are finalized, saying "Depending on who wins, as of the two candidates, then that puts us into a better position to understand how to move the process forward at the beginning of next year."

Obama made the two sides sit down for direct talks in early September 2010, but Israel's intransigency on the settlement building in the West Bank prompted the Palestinians to quit the talks only weeks later.

U.S. peace envoys have maintained regular contacts with the two parties, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Israeli government to make gestures to the Palestinians so as to restart the stalled peace process early this week when she paid a visit to Israel.

"Whoever it is that becomes president, I'm sure both of them fully understands that whatever is happening in the Middle East, the core issue still is that of the two-state solution and the challenges of the Israeli, Palestinian people," King Abdullah said.


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