Peres was also accompanied by political adviser Nimrod Novik and Parliament member Rafi Edri, a key member of Peres' Labor Alignment who has met with Hassan on more than one occasion.
A well-known moderate who rules over a sizable Jewish community in Morocco, Hassan has long urged his fellow Arabs to accept Israel's existence as a fact of life. And he has welcomed lower-level Israeli delegations to Morocco several times in recent years.
Peres met secretly with the Moroccan monarch at least twice previously, according to the prime minister's biographer, Matti Golan. Those meetings took place in July, 1978, and March, 1981, in Morocco, Golan has written.
Both Hussein and Peres are said to feel that time is running out for a Mideast peace settlement. Peres is believed to hope that if he can enlist the public support of King Hassan, it might strengthen the position of Hussein within the Arab world and thus give the Jordanian monarch more leeway to open negotiations with Israel.
Hassan is seen here as motivated primarily by a desire to make a breakthrough in the stalled peace process before the moderate Peres turns over the premiership to the rightist Shamir next October under a unique "rotation" clause in the coalition agreement between the two parties.
Most Israeli and West Bank officials quoted by Israel radio about the Peres trip early today reacted favorably to the news.
"It gives new hopes for the peace process," said Simcha Dinitz, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and member of Parliament from Peres' Labor Alignment.
Israel radio quoted Hanna Siniora, a pro-PLO newspaper editor in East Jerusalem, as saying: "From a historical viewpoint, the Peres visit to Morocco should be compared with Sadat's first visit to Jerusalem."
And Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij called the trip "a bold step," which will hopefully "thaw the peace process."
Times staff writer Michael Ross in Tunis, Tunisia, contributed to this story.