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Medvedev arrives in Jordan en route to West Bank

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Jordan on Tuesday en route to the West Bank city of Jericho for talks with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, the palace said.

Medvedev was received by Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh before heading to Jericho on his first visit to the occupied territories.

He will return late Tuesday to Amman for a private dinner with King Abdullah II, a senior official told AFP.

The two leaders plan to discuss on Wednesday the obstacles blocking the launch of serious and effective Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, according to a palace statement.

Russia, which is one of the four members of the Middle East peace Quartet along with the United States, European Union and United Nations, has traditionally competed with Washington for influence as a power broker in the region.

Direct peace negotiations began in September but ground to a halt weeks later when an Israeli ban on settlement construction in the West Bank expired and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to renew it.

During his trip, Medvedev will visit a Jordan Valley site where many Christians believe Jesus was baptised.