Media & Communication Directorate
Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)
Washington, DC, 26 May 2012
His Majesty King Abdullah on Friday met with US President Barack Obama at the White House for talks on bilateral ties and regional developments, especially the Syrian crisis and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
In remarks to the press before the meeting, King Abdullah warned against the fragmentation of Syria as well as the rise of terror groups taking a foothold there. “We are now seeing the surge of the second threat appear, which is that of militant terrorist organisations that have risen over the past several months.”
This was the second Jordan-US summit in five weeks, after President Obama visited Amman on March 22-23. In addition to the Syrian crisis, and the humanitarian emergency that it has caused in Jordan and other neighbouring countries, the peace process and bilateral ties topped the agenda.
Highlighted the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on the Kingdom’s economy, His Majesty told President Obama in front of the press: “Since your last visit to Jordan, five weeks ago, we have had over 60,000 Syrian refugees enter our country.” Syrian refugees in Jordan now exceed half a million, he added, “a 10 per cent increase of our population.”
Thanking the US government and the American people for the assistance provided to the Kingdom, the King called on the international community to “catch up” and provide support to face the Syrian refugees emergency.
The King said Amman and Washington “are both working very hard to look for a political solution” to the Syrian crisis and stressed the need for such solution to be “inclusive, so that we’re bringing everybody together.”
On the peace process, His Majesty said that when Obama was in Jordan, “we had mentioned this is the homework stage. Jordan will continue to work very closely with the Israelis and Palestinians, obviously with our American allies to see how we can bring both sides closer together” to kick off final-status negotiations.
His Majesty started his statement to the press before the meeting with President Obama by offering Jordan’s condolences over the Boston terror attack and reiterating Jordan’s determination to continue the fight against all forms of terrorism.
“On behalf of myself, the delegation and the people of Jordan, our heartfelt condolences for the tragedy of the Boston bombing. We’ve always stood together in our fight against terrorism, and we will always be strong partners on this,” the King said.
His Majesty noted that the US president had lately met UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, “who is one of our strongest strategic allies.” He said Jordan, the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, “the three of us are working very hard in cooperation with the United States to try to find a quick and just solution to the Syrian crisis.”
For his part, President Obama described the King as a “great friend of the United States” and congratulated him for “a series of reforms that he’s initiating.”
“We have been supportive with respect to loan guarantees and other efforts, in part because we have also seen King Abdullah take some very important steps to further open democratisation, entrepreneurship and economic development inside of Jordan. We want to encourage that because we think Jordan can be an extraordinary model for effective governance in the region.”
On the Mideast peace process, Obama referred to his recent tour of Israel and the West Bank and his “consultations with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas.”
“And Jordan, like the United States, has an enormous stake in peace. And we do think that there’s a window of opportunity that needs to be seized, and so we will both consult on how we can jumpstart serious conversations that could lead to a peaceful settlement and both a secure Israel with normalised relations with its neighbours and a Palestinian state that is sovereign.”
On Syria, he underlined the “great urgency” of the situation there and Jordan’s efforts to offer relief aid to refugees.
“Jordan has experienced a huge influx of refugees from Syria. Jordan historically has maintained open borders and allowed these refugees on a humanitarian basis to come in, but it’s an enormous strain on a small country.”
Obama said Syrian President Bashar Assad “has lost legitimacy and we need to find a political transition that allows a multi-sect, democratic transition to take place so that Syria can be a place where all people can live in peace and harmony,” noting that such a task “will be difficult to accomplish.”
Obama said the US had “some evidence that chemical weapons have been used on the populations in Syria. Now, these are preliminary assessments, based on our intelligence gathering. We have varying degrees of confidence about the actual use, but there are a range of questions around how, when, where these weapons may have been used.”
He announced “a very vigorous investigation” and consultations with partners in the region as well as the international community and the UN.
The US leader voiced appreciation for “the kinds of support, advice, counsel and partnership that we have with His Majesty and the people of Jordan.”
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein attended the summit meeting, along with Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, His Majesty’s Office Director Imad Fakhoury, His Majesty’s Adviser Abdullah Wreikat and Jordan’s Ambassador to the US Alia Bouran.
From the US side, Secretary of State John Kerry was present, along with senior administration officials.