US President Barack Obama 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
WASHINGTON – Seeking to keep momentum going on nascent peace talks, King
Abdullah of Jordan discussed his efforts to help the Israelis and Palestinians
come together during a visit here this week.
“Although this is still in
the very early stages, we have to keep our fingers crossed and hope that we can
bring the Israelis and Palestinians out of the impasse that we’re facing,”
Abdullah said during his White House visit with US President Barack Obama on
Tuesday, which he followed up with meetings with US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton and her staff on Wednesday.
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Obama praised Abdullah for his “great
leadership” on the issue, after the first talks in more than a year held between
Israelis and Palestinians in Amman.
“We talked about the importance of us
continuing to consult closely together to encourage the Palestinians and the
Israelis to come back to the table and negotiate in a serious fashion,” Obama
The Palestinians have threatened to leave the talks on January 26,
the date set by the Quartet for concluding a three-month period for preparatory
talks, if Israel does not halt settlement construction and Jewish building in
Israel has insisted that since the talks only started
this month – instead of the initial Quartet date of October – the end date for
the talks should be April 3.
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The US wants to see the talks continue
despite the anticipated deadline, and the visit from Abdullah could add extra
weight to carrying on with the process.
“It’s really important that these
dates serve as a guideline, as references, as milestones, if you will, and help
define or delineate this process going forward,” State Department Spokesman Mark
Toner said. “But they shouldn’t be a hindrance to progress.”
and Abdullah also discussed Damascus in their Oval Office meeting, with Obama
calling on Syria’s leader to step aside.
“Uppermost on our minds right
now is the issue of Syria,” Obama said. “We’re continuing to see unacceptable
levels of violence inside that country, and so we will continue to consult very
closely with Jordan to create the kind of international pressure and environment
that encourages the current Syrian regime to step aside so that a more
democratic process of transition can take place inside of Syria.”
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