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Obama Pledges $200 Million to Jordan for Syrian Refugees

  • VOA News

President Obama, left, and Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman, Jordan March 22, 2013

President Obama, left, and Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman, Jordan March 22, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama has praised Jordanian King Abdullah for taking a stand against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying Washington will give an additional $200 million to Jordan to help shoulder the burden of refugees fleeing into that country.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Amman on Friday following talks with King Abdullah, Obama commended the Jordanian monarch for being "the first Arab leader to call on Assad to step down."


King Abdullah, who noted that as many as 460,000 Syrian refugees are in Jordan, said his country will not close the border for refugees. He stressed the need for the international community to help resolve what he called a "humanitarian calamity."


In addition to bilateral and strategic issues, the two leaders say they discussed the Israeli-Palestinian issue during closed-door talks.



Both reiterated the need for peace talks to resume. Obama warned that the "window of opportunity" for such talks was slowly closing, while King Abdullah added that the two-state solution is "the only way to go."


Obama will attend a state dinner later this evening, and travel to Petra on Saturday.


Obama arrived in Jordan Friday following a visit to Israel and the West Bank that included talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and calls for the two sides to resume peace efforts.


Earlier Friday, he traveled to Bethlehem to join Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a tour of the Church of the Nativity, the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.


Also Friday, the U.S. president visited Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, where he called for tolerance against others.


"This is our obligation: not simply to bear witness, but to act. For us, in our time, this means confronting bigotry and hatred in all of its forms, racism, especially anti-Semitism, none of that has a place in the civilized world," Obama said.

Accompanied by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama spoke after viewing the Hall of Names: a circular room ringed by thousands of volumes containing names of people killed in the Holocaust.


During his visit to Israel, the president took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the graves of Theodor Herzl - the founder of the movement to establish a Jewish state - and slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.


On Thursday, in a speech to university students in Jerusalem, Obama assured his audience of young Israelis that they are "not alone" in facing threats to Israel's security. He added that peace with the Palestinians is the "only path to true security."


Obama said Israeli leaders must recognize that "continued settlement activity" on land the Palestinians claim for a state is "counterproductive." Obama also said he believes Israel has a genuine peace partner in Palestinian President Abbas.

Accompanied by Peres and Netanyahu, Obama spoke after viewing the Hall of Names: a circular room ringed by thousands of volumes containing names of people killed in the Holocaust.

During his visit to Israel, the president took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the graves of Theodor Herzl - the founder of the movement to establish a Jewish state - and slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

On Thursday, in a speech to university students in Jerusalem, Obama assured his audience of young Israelis that they are "not alone" in facing threats to Israel's security. He added that peace with the Palestinians is the "only path to true security."

Obama said Israeli leaders must recognize that "continued settlement activity" on land the Palestinians claim for a state is "counterproductive." Obama also said he believes Israel has a genuine peace partner in Palestinian President Abbas.

Israeli press reported Friday that Obama met with Netanyahu for several hours Friday to brief the Israeli prime minister on his talks with Abbas.

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