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Jordan and Syria discuss Arab rapprochement

AMMAN, March 20 (Reuters) - Jordan's King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held talks in Amman on Friday, part of a flurry of diplomatic moves to close Arab ranks ahead of a summit later this month in Qatar, officials said.

A palace statement said the talks between the two leaders focused on "efforts to crystallise a joint Arab stance to confront the common challenges facing and developments in the region."

Conservative Arab states led by Saudi Arabia are mending ties with Syria to restore a semblance of Arab harmony before the Doha summit later this month.

After intensive diplomacy, Assad held a meeting in Riyadh earlier this month with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in reconciliation talks that that marked a thaw in Syria's Arab relations after almost four years of hostility.

Jordan and its allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt who maintain close ties with the United States are alarmed at Iran's influence in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza, through backing for political groups, and they accuse Syria of aiding this. (Writing by Suleiman al-Khalidi; editing by Richard Williams)

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