(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Hamas chief Khaled Mishaal is set to make a long-anticipated official visit to Jordan next week, marking a turnaround in relations between Amman and the Palestinian resistance movement.
His Majesty King Abdullah will receive Mishaal next week in what will mark the first official visit by the Hamas leader to the Kingdom in over a decade, according to Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Rakan Majali.
Majali confirmed that during the three-day visit, coordinated by Qatari Emir Hamad Ben Khalifa and to start on Sunday, Mishaal is also set to meet with Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh, Interior Minister Mohammad Al Raoud and other Jordanian officials.
According to a senior Hamas official, Hamad and Mishaal will also be accompanied by several members of Hamas' politburo, including Mousa Abu Marzouq, second-in command in the office.
According to the source, who preferred to remain unnamed, Mishaal and the delegation are expected to request permission for a "permanent presence" in Jordan, stopping short of whether the Palestinian movement will seek to reopen its political office in Amman.
The source stressed that Hamas' intentions to establish a presence in the Kingdom comes as part of the movement's desire to "expand" its diplomatic reach and not a sign that the Palestinian movement is abandoning its Damascus headquarters.
"The internal situation in Syria has no influence whatsoever on our request to establish a branch in Jordan or our desire to improve relations with Jordanian authorities," the source said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Majali stressed that the reopening of Hamas' political office is "not on the current agenda" of discussions.
In previous statements to the press, Khasawneh indicated that the government would consider allowing the relocation of Hamas leaders and their families to the Kingdom provided that they forego any "political activity" on Jordanian soil.
Abu Marzouq criticised the proposal, stressing that political activity is a core part of the movement's mission to "protect the rights of Palestinians".
Mishaal's Jordan visit has faced a series of delays dating back to late August which officials have attributed to "logistical and scheduling" conflicts between the agendas of the officials involved.
The visit marks a turnaround for Jordanian decision makers, who have had limited contacts with the resistance movement since closing its offices and expelling senior leaders in 1999, a move Khasawneh has referred to as a "political and constitutional mistake".
The visit comes as the brewing crisis in Syria stretches into its tenth month, sparking speculation among observers that the movement is preparing a mass relocation from its host country to Jordan.