Netanyahu, Jordan's Abdullah discuss Syria chemical arms - reports

JERUSALEM Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:04am IST

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) is seen during the launch of his Likud Beiteinu party campaign ahead of the upcoming January 22 national elections, in Jerusalem December 25, 2012. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) is seen during the launch of his Likud Beiteinu party campaign ahead of the upcoming January 22 national elections, in Jerusalem December 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has secretly met Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman to discuss the risk of Syria's chemical weapons falling into the hands of Islamist militants, Israeli media reports said on Wednesday.

Two TV stations and Israeli news sites quoted unnamed Israeli officials confirming a report in the London-based Arabic language daily, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, that such a summit had been held. Netanyahu's spokesmen have declined to comment on the reports.

As Syria's southern neighbour, Israel has been concerned about the risk of President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons falling into the hands of Islamist militants or Lebanese Hezbollah fighters as an uprising against him convulses a country thought to possess a formidable chemical arsenal.

Israel has warned it could intervene if it felt there was a real risk of such a scenario unfolding.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994 and meetings between their leaders are not unusual and are often announced by both sides.

Israel's Channel 2 said the latest talks included a "very long discussion" about "cooperation with Jordan with regard to the fate of Syria's chemical weapons". It did not elaborate.

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon on Tuesday dismissed reports that Syrian government forces had fired chemical agents at rebels fighting to topple Assad's government.

"As things stand now, we do not have any confirmation or proof that (chemical weapons) have already been used, but we are definitely following events with concern," Yaalon said on Israel's Army Radio.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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