Thousands of Jordanians protest government's austerity plan

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Several thousand Jordanians have joined the largest protest yet against the government's recent austerity measures, including price hikes and planned tax increases.

Riot police scuffled with demonstrators late Saturday and fired several tear gas volleys to keep them away from the prime minister's office. Protesters chanted, "The people want to topple the government."

Earlier Saturday, King Abdullah II met with the prime minister, Cabinet ministers and senior security officials. The state news agency Petra quoted the king as saying Jordan's citizens shouldn't have to bear the burden of financial reforms alone. Abdullah is the ultimate decision-maker, but public anger is typically directed at governments appointed by him.

International lenders have pushed for economic reforms to help reduce Jordan's public debt, a result of a sluggish economy linked to regional turmoil.