Petra, JORDAN - US President Barack Obama visited Jordan's ancient city of Petra on Saturday as he wrapped up a four-day Middle East tour by setting aside weighty diplomatic matters and playing tourist for a day.
The visit followed a trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories that was capped by Obama's brokering of a rapprochement between Israel and Turkey.
Before heading to Petra, Obama used his stop in Jordan to ratchet up criticism of Syrian President Bashar Assad, but he stopped short of promising military aid to Syrian rebels to help end a two-year-old civil war that has claimed 70,000 lives.
US officials privately voiced satisfaction with the results of Obama's first foreign trip of his second term, but the president's aides had set expectations so low that it was not hard to proclaim it a mission accomplished.
Shifting into sightseeing mode on Saturday, Obama flew by helicopter to southern Jordan. He was driven in a motorcade to Petra and began a walking tour of the restored ruins of a city half-carved into sandstone cliffs.