US President Barack Obama welcomed King Abdullah II of Jordan to the White House Friday where the two leaders discussed “urgent matters,” namely the Middle East peace process and reports by Washington officials that Syria used chemical weapons against its own population.
Obama called the Jordanian monarch “a great partner” and a “great friend” of the US, and praised him for enacting a series of pro-democratic, entrepreneurial reforms.
“We think Jordan can be an extraordinary model for effective governance in the region,” Obama said to reporters before beginning his private meeting with Abdullah.
Obama said the two would also discuss the Middle East peace process. He noted that the last time he met with Abdullah was after his trip to Israel and the West Bank in March, during which he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“Jordan, like the US, has an enormous stake in this,” the president said, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He said that the US and Jordan see eye to eye on there being a “window of opportunity” during which a peaceful settlement between Israelis and Palestinians can take place — an agreement that would make Israel secure and enable it to normalize its relations with its neighbors, and also establish a sovereign Palestinian state.
The president then touched on recent reports and assessments by officials in Washington that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons. He said the matter was of grave importance, and that he and the king would discuss the regional implications of the Syrian crisis as well as the influx of several hundred thousand Syrian refugees into Jordan during their meeting.
Abdullah echoed Obama’s sentiments by stating that Jordan would continue to work closely with both the Israelis and Palestinians to try to secure a peace deal.
He then said that the Syrian crisis has become a vexing crisis for Jordan and the entire region. “One of our major concerns right now is the challenge of Syria,” he said. Jordan is tied to the Syrian humanitarian crisis, Abdullah explained, referencing the half a million refugees who fled across the border or were displaced to the Hashemite kingdom.
He also said that a political solution to the Syrian crisis is paramount.
“I think, sir, we are both working hard to find a political solution to the problem in Syria, one that is inclusive,” he said to Obama, adding that preventing the “surge of militant terrorist organizations in Syria” is a major goal. “But I’m confident that with your leadership… and through our meetings, that we will find a solution.”