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THE WEEK AHEAD

WASHINGTON : Out of the Shadows

July 19, 1994

The longest-running "secret diplomacy" in the Middle East comes in from the shadows Monday when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and King Hussein of Jordan meet at the White House for talks that President Clinton says will usher in a "new era" of regional peacemaking.

For most of the last three decades, Hussein has met with a succession of Israeli prime ministers and foreign ministers to keep a lid on the simmering hostility across the longest Arab-Israeli border. But neither side publicly acknowledged the contacts.

Although U.S. officials do not expect Monday's meeting to lead directly to an Israel-Jordan peace treaty, the talks show that Hussein is prepared to move ahead in relations with Israel even if that angers Syrian President Hafez Assad, who is left isolated in his hard-line animosity toward the Israeli government.

Washington was the site of last year's milestone in the Middle East peace process, the peace agreement signed by Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat on the lawn of the White House.

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