In DC, Jordan's king discusses US embassy in Israel, ISIS, Syria

By REUTERS
January 31, 2017 10:41

Jordan's King Abdullah is the first Arab leader in Washington for talks with the Trump administration.

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Jordan's King Abdullah in Washington for talks with Trump administration

Jordan's King Abdullah in Washington for talks with Trump administration

Jordan's King Abdullah opened talks at the Pentagon on Monday, the first Arab leader to engage in person the new administration of President Donald Trump.

Abdullah held a private breakfast with US Vice President Mike Pence and then met US Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon.

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Pence and Abdullah discussed a range of issues from speeding up the fight against Islamic State, the crisis in Syria, and efforts to reach an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, the White House said.

Abdullah also raised the issue of potential changes to the US embassy in Israel, the White House said in a statement.

Abdullah has just finished a visit to Russia where President Vladimir Putin thanked Jordan for supporting the Syrian peace process. Jordan is part of a US-led military campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria.

Less than a week into his presidency, Trump said in a television interview on Wednesday that he would "absolutely do safe zones in Syria" for refugees fleeing violence and that Europe had made a mistake by admitting millions of refugees from Syria.

The creation of safe zones would ratchet up US military involvement in Syria and mark a major departure from former President Barack Obama's more cautious approach. Increased US or allied air power would be required if Trump chose to enforce "no fly" restrictions, and ground forces might also be needed to protect civilians in those areas.

Abdullah's visit comes as Trump signed an executive order that would include a temporary ban on all refugees, and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Iran.

Jordan has been overwhelmed by the influx of refugees since the Syrian conflict began. The vast majority of refugees referred by the UN refugee agency to the United States come from Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq.

Trump is expected to greet Abdullah at a prayer event in Washington on Thursday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer separately told reporters in a daily briefing.


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