Middle East tops agenda of King Abdullah's visit to Austria

Vienna - King Abdula IIBilateral issues were forced into the background on Wednesday as Jordan's King Abdullah II and his Austrian hosts focused on the situation in the Middle East during the king's one-day visit to Vienna.

Austria would renew its efforts in helping to bring about "fair and just peace that was advantageous for both sides" in the Middle East, President Heinz Fischer said after meeting with Abdullah.

Vienna would continue its close contact with those forces in Israel and the Arab world who were working towards peace, Fischer said, adding that 2008 was "crucial" in bringing about the two-state solution envisaged for Israel and Palestine.

"Austria is a balanced and good friend of the region," Abdullah praised Austria's foreign policy which has traditionally put a strong focus on the Middle East.

Abdullah, who was accompanied by Queen Rania, said that both countries were planning to expand their economic ties, helped by Jordan's strong economy.

On Wednesday evening, Jordan's king, who was educated at top Western military academies and headed palace security before ascending to the throne, will visit the headquarters of Austria's elite police units.

Fischer announced a return visit to Jordan for November, where he hoped to formalize several bilateral trade deals.