Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal held talks on Thursday with King Abdullah II on his second official visit to Jordan this year to boost ties with the kingdom.
“The meeting comes at a crucial time as part of coordination and cooperation between the two sides. Hamas is keen to develop relations with Jordan,” Meshaal, who has Jordanian nationality, was quoted as saying in a palace statement.
The king told Meshaal and his delegation “strengthening Palestinian unity would help Palestinian people restore their rights,” it added.
Holding elections and forming a caretaker cabinet are two of the main issues that have been holding up implementation of a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah factions signed in April 2011 but stalled since then.
Hamas spokesman in Gaza Sami Abu Zuhri said the visit focuses on ties between Jordan and the Palestinian Islamist group.
“The trip is important for the two sides in light of the current developments in the region,” he said.
Relations between Hamas and Jordan have been strained since 1999, when the authorities expelled Meshaal and three other Hamas members after the group was accused of threatening the kingdom’s security and stability.
They soured further in 2006 after Amman alleged that members of the group had smuggled weapons into the kingdom from neighbouring Syria.
Meshaal, who survived a 1997 assassination attempt in Amman by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, held talks with the king in January on the first official visit since the expulsion.
He has also made two shorts trips to Jordan to attend his father’s funeral and see his ailing mother.