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Israel prepares for signing of Jordan accord

ISRAELI authorities have carved out a site for the signing of a peace treaty with Jordan at a point straddling the two countries' border, 2 1/2 miles north of the Red Sea port of Eilat.

Barbed wire was bulldozed aside and a patch of sandy wasteland the size of a football field paved to accommodate 2,500 Israeli, 1,500 Jordanian, and 1,500 US guests.

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Officials said the treaty will be signed in a Bedouin tent made of black goat hair, in a ceremony that includes performances by orchestras from both countries and the release of some 10,000 balloons.

The treaty caps an astonishing series of events in little more than a year, including Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the White House on Sept. 13, 1993.