WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden will 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 moment in the Middle East for Biden.
Abdullah arrives at the White House Monday afternoon. Last week, a Jordanian state security court sentenced two former officials to 15 years in prison for an alleged plot against the king discovered earlier this year involving Abdullah’s half-brother.
Meanwhile, Biden, who has focused much of his foreign policy on China and Russia at first, faces some tough problems in the Middle East. He is dealing with intensified attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militias at the same time that his administration is trying to push Iran back to the negotiating table to revive the nuclear deal that Donald Trump left 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 to showcase Jordan’s leadership role in promoting peace and stability in the region. “.
Abdullah had a rocky relationship with Trump, whom he saw as undermining an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal with his 2017 declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also mocked 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 America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital, and his administration has even praised the deals negotiated by Trump, a rare case in which the Democratic administration speaks positively of the previous administration’s policymaking.
Biden officials plan to emphasize to Abdullah that the agreements are not a “race goal” in finding the way to a peace agreement 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 a million Syrian refugees have fled the war-torn nation to Jordan) and an unstable security situation in Iraq, the official said. At least eight drone strikes have targeted the US military presence in Iraq since Biden took office in January, as well as 17 rocket strikes.
Abdullah is the first Arab world leader to come face to face with Biden. The president will host Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the White House next week, and Biden has invited Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to visit him later this summer.
Abdullah will also have a working breakfast on Monday with Vice President Kamala Harris and meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday.
The Oval Office meeting with Biden is also an opportunity for the king to highlight his closeness to Biden after the coup attempt.
Bassem Awadallah, who is a US citizen and once served as a senior aide to King Abdullah II, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, were found guilty on charges of sedition and incitement. Both men denied the charges and Awadallah’s US attorney said his client alleges that he was tortured while in detention in Jordan and that he fears for his life.
It is alleged that they 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 praised the king’s leadership after details of the coup attempt were revealed in April.
Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein are expected to join Abdullah for the White House visit. First Lady Jill Biden will host the Queen for tea at the White House.
Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press