Biden hosts Jordan’s King Abdullah amid tough choices for US in Mideast
President Joe Biden is set to host King Abdullah II of Jordan during one of the most difficult moments of the Jordanian leader’s 22-year rule and at a pivotal time in the Middle East for Biden.
Abdullah arrives Monday afternoon at the White House. Last week a Jordanian state security court sentenced two former officials to serve 15 years in prison over an alleged plot against the king uncovered earlier this year that involved Abdullah’s half-brother.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
Meanwhile, Biden, who has put much of his foreign policy focus on China and Russia in the early going, faces some difficult issues in the Middle East. He is dealing with stepped-up attacks against US troops in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militias at the same moment that his administration is trying to nudge Iran back to the negotiating table to revive the nuclear agreement that Donald Trump abandoned during his presidency.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the meeting “will be an opportunity to discuss the many challenges facing the Middle East and showcase Jordan’s leadership role in promoting peace and stability in the region.”
Abdullah had a difficult relationship with Trump, who he saw as undercutting a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians with his 2017 declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He also chaffed at the Trump administration’s pursuit of what officials called the Abraham Accords — deals with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco that normalized relations with Israel but left out the Palestinians.
Biden has no plans to reverse US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital, and his administration has even offered praise for the Trump-brokered accords — a rare instance of the Democratic administration speaking positively of the former administration’s policy-making.
Biden officials plan to stress to Abdullah that the accords are not an “end run” on finding the way to a peace deal that includes a Palestinian state, according to a senior administration official who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The two leaders are expected to discuss the situation in Syria — more than 1 million Syrian refugees have fled the war-ravaged nation for Jordan — and a wobbly security situation in Iraq, the official said. At least eight drone attacks have targeted the US military presence in Iraq since Biden took office in January, as well as 17 rocket attacks.
Abdullah — along with Egypt President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — visited Iraq in June for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Baghdad. The Biden administration sees Jordan as a moderate voice in the region that can help “balance and counter” some of the more malign influence coming from Iran, the official said.
Abdullah is the first Arab world leader to meet face-to-face with Biden. The president is set to host al-Kadhimi at the White House next week, and Biden has invited Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, to visit later this summer.
Abdullah is also set to have a working breakfast on Tuesday with Vice President Kamala Harris and to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The Oval Office meeting with Biden is also a chance for the king to spotlight his closeness to Biden following the attempted coup.
Bassem Awadallah, who has US citizenship and once served as a top aide to King Abdullah II, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, were found guilty of sedition and incitement charges. Both men denied the charges and Awadallah’s US lawyer said his client alleged he was tortured in Jordanian detention and fears for his life.
They are alleged to have conspired with Prince Hamzah, the king’s half-brother. Biden, who has known Abdullah for years, was quick to publicly express “strong US support for Jordan” and praise the king’s leadership after details of the coup attempt were unveiled in April.
Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein are expected to join Abdullah for the White House visit. First lady Jill Biden is to host the queen for tea at the White House.
Jordanian court sentences two former officials to 15 years for coup plot
Jordan’s King Abdullah to be first Arab leader to visit US next month
No change to ban on Jewish prayer at mosque, says Israeli PM Bennett
No change to ban on Jewish prayer at mosque, says Israeli PM BennettIsraeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is not changing the norms at a contested site in Jerusalem to allow Jewish prayer there, his office said Monday ... Middle East
US urged to allow Egypt, Jordan gas deal with Lebanon via Arab Gas PipelineThe Biden administration is being pressed to allow Lebanon to receive natural gas from Egypt, which would have to pass through Syria and potentially ... Middle East
Jordan King, Israel president hold talks after water dealJordan’s King Abdullah II on Saturday received a telephone call from Israel’s new President Isaac Herzog and they discussed Middle East peace efforts, ... Middle East
Jordanian court sentences two former officials to 15 years for coup plotA Jordanian state security court on Monday sentenced former officials, Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, to 15 years in prison on charges ... Middle East
Israel’s new PM secretly met Jordan’s king last week ahead of new water dealIsrael's new prime minister met secretly with the Jordanian king last week, an Israeli official confirmed Thursday, as the two countries announced new ... Middle East
Defense in Jordan trial to ask court to invite Prince Hamza to testifyJordan’s Prince Hamza is among witnesses who will be asked to testify by the defense team of a former confidant of King Abdullah who is on trial on ... Middle East
Jordan’s King Abdullah to be first Arab leader to visit US next monthThe king is also expected to meet with members of Congress and other officials on Capitol Hill Middle East