Jordan's king discusses with Bush Mideast developments by phone

King Abdullah II of Jordan spoke with U.S. President George W. Bush late Monday to discuss the latest developments in the Mideast, according to the official Petra News Agency. The agency provided no further details on the phone call, which took place the same evening that Jordanian intelligence officials announced the arrest of a top al-Qaida in Iraq member. Jordanian state television said the General Intelligence Department had detained an unidentified leader of the al-Qaida in Iraq militant group, blaming him for kidnapping and killing Jordanians and Arabs and robbing commercial trucks driving to and from Iraq. The man, who has yet to be publicly identified, was expected to make his confession on Jordan's state TV later Tuesday. Details concerning his arrest are expected to be disclosed at 6 p.m. local time (1500GMT), the official news agency said.

Jordan's intelligence department is known to be one of the most efficient security agencies in the Arab world. It coordinates closely and shares intelligence data with the United States, including U.S. forces in Iraq. In the past, Jordanian agents have teamed with their American counterparts on interrogations of militants in Iraq. But the latest arrest was the first confirmation by the Jordanian intelligence agency that it has agents operating independently in Iraq.

Earlier Monday, an aide to Jordan's top diplomat in Gaza, Khaled Radaida, 55, was shot dead as he drove on a Gaza street where Hamas militants exchanged fire with Palestinian police allied to moderate leader Mahmoud Abbas. It was not clear whether the vehicle, bearing Jordanian diplomatic plates, was deliberately targeted or inadvertently drove into the battle. Radaida's body was flown back to Jordan on Tuesday.

Radaida's death occurred amid rising tensions between Jordan and Hamas. Jordanian authorities have demanded an immediate probe into his killing. Last month, Jordan arrested 20 Hamas militants it alleged were involved in smuggling weapons into the country including Iranian-made Katyusha rockets and of plotting attacks against public officials and institutions, reports the AP.