WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump plans to visit the majority-Muslim kingdom of Jordan at the end of December, The Associated Press has learned. The disclosure came one day after Trump's controversial proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States to protect the nation from Islamic terrorism.
Trump's visit to Jordan would take place as part of his trip to neighboring Israel, which he previously disclosed during an interview last week with the AP. It was not immediately clear whether Trump would meet personally with King Abdullah there, but his campaign told U.S. government officials he wants the meeting.
Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to questions about the trip.
The U.S. government was making preparations based on Trump's plans. Trump has Secret Service protection for his safety.
Trump was widely criticized over his proposal this week to prevent all Muslims from visiting the U.S., although he clarified his idea Tuesday to say that he would allow foreign Muslim leaders to visit.
Jordan is among the United States' staunchest allies in the Persian Gulf region and its military has regularly flown bombing missions against the Islamic State group. Jordan is also home to massive refugee camps for more than 600,000 Syrians who have fled the fighting in neighboring Syria. In February, a Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot, Lt. Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, was brutally burned to death inside a cage after his F-16 jet crashed over Syria.
Trump's Republican rival, Ben Carson, visited two camps for Syrian refugees in the Jordanian desert two weeks ago with no media coverage. Carson afterward praised Jordan for its generosity toward the refugees but said none should be brought to the United States.
Associated Press writers Alicia Caldwell and Jill Colvin contributed to this story.