WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama said on Friday that the United States and its allies are making slow but steady progress in the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, and he pledged new aid to Jordan to grapple with Syrian refugees.
Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah made a show of solidarity against Islamic State, holding Oval Office talks that covered the gamut from Iran's nuclear program to tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.
"We recognize that it's a long-term and extremely complex challenge, but it's one that we feel optimistic we'll be able to succeed at," Obama said of the Islamic State battle, with Abdullah seated at his side.
Beyond the military challenge, the two leaders discussed some of Abdullah's ideas about organizing within Islam in a way to allow peaceful Muslims to over time "isolate and ultimately eradicate this strain" of the religion that has swept the region, Obama said.
Abdullah has absorbed into his country some 1.5 million refugees from Syria's civil war. To continue to deal with the challenge, Obama pledged $1 billion in aid and a new loan guarantee to help Jordan.