President Obama Talks about Middle East Peace with Key Ally
President Obama continued his week of focusing on the Middle East in a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah in the Oval Office, where Obama reiterated how important their relationship is in the wake of democratic uprisings in the region.
The meeting came ahead of a major speech the president will deliver Thursday at the State Department, where he will lay out his broad vision for the Middle East.
The president said Jordan, who is a key ally, and the U.S. they have a "longstanding friendship" and "extraordinary relationship" on a broad range of issues.
"[D]uring this remarkable time of transition in the region that Jordan will be at the forefront in being able to move a process forward that creates greater opportunity and ensures that Jordan is a model of a prosperous, modern, and successful Arab state under your leadership," Obama said.
The two talked about the ongoing Israeli and Palestinian conflict saying it's more important than ever for peace to happen, especially given recent events in the region, including pro-democracy protests in several countries including Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. "Jordan, obviously, with its own peace with Israel, has an enormous stake in this. The United States has an enormous stake in this. We will continue to partner to try to encourage an equitable and just solution to a problem that has been nagging the region for many, many years," Obama said.Obama said he's valued Abdullah's advice and that the two discussed Libya and the need for humanitarian assistance there.
The president also said the two spoke about places like Egypt and Tunisia that it should be more than just political reform, but also economic change, because many of the young people who are sparking democratic protests will eventually be looking for jobs "And that means some of the old structures that were inhibiting their ability to progress have to be reworked," Obama said.
The president also announced that the U.S. has mobilized several hundreds of thousands of dollars through OPIC that will leverage about $1billion for economic development in Jordan, and also providing 50,000 metric tons of heat because of the spike in commodity prices.
He added they are grateful for Jordan's work on terrorism. "[W]e continue to appreciate all the security and counterterrorism cooperation that we receive from the Jordanians. It is very important in terms of our own security, and that partnership we expect to continue," the president said.
Abdullah thanked Obama for the U.S.' backing of his country and said Jordan would continue to be a strong partner. "I'm delighted to be back here and again take this opportunity to thank you and your government for the tremendous support that you're showing Jordan economically and the support of the United States and a lot of our friends internationally on really being able to push reform in an aggressive manner in our country, and again your continued interest and support on the core issue of the Middle East, which is the Israeli and Palestinian peace," Abdullah said.
Obama is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday.