News / Middle East

Obama, Jordan's King Discuss Syria Refugees, Extremist Risks

On the final leg of his Middle East trip, U.S. President Barack Obama and King Abdullah of Jordan discussed the serious impact of Syria's civil war on the region. 

The talks also covered Israel-Palestinian peace efforts. 

Mr. Obama visited Jordan to reaffirm support for the longtime strategic ally of the United States, especially now as Jordan bears the burden of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.

At a joint news conference, King Abdullah said Jordan will not turn refugees away, but needs help with the costs, now $550 million a year and climbing.

The king said, "What we are facing now today obviously is an urgent need for the international community to help in humanitarian assistance to catch up with the challenges we are facing as countries bordering Syria."

King Abdullah said there are now 460,000 refugees in Jordan and the number could double. He said there is a need to increase stockpiling of supplies inside Syria, and aid for those who have fled.

Obama concerned about Syria

President Obama said he is working with Congress to provide $200 million in additional budget support for Jordan.

The talks also covered concerns about prolonged sectarian conflict and what the king called possible "fragmentation" of Syria, with disastrous regional consequences.

Mr. Obama said he is very concerned about Syria becoming "an enclave" for extremist groups, saying that is why the U.S. continues working with partners to support a viable Syrian opposition.

The president said, "Even if we execute our assistance and our coordination and our planning and our support flawlessly, the situation in Syria now is going to be difficult and that is what happens when you have a leader who cares more about clinging to power than they do about holding their country together and looking after their people."

King discusses Assad's future

King Abdullah seemed to backtrack on his offer of asylum for the Syrian leader, saying the question is something that would have be discussed at a higher level by the international community.

The king said, "Obviously from our point of view we are saying we need an inclusive political transition as soon as possible so if the issue of asylum ever came up that is something that I think all of us would have to put our heads together and figure out whether or not if that sort of ends the violence quickly is something worth pursuing."

President Obama was asked about the threat by Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Khameini to destroy Israeli cities if military action is taken against its nuclear facilities.

He avoided a direct answer, but said nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran would be a problem for all nations.

Mr. Obama said, "This is not just a problem for Israel, it is not just a problem for the United States, it is a regional and worldwide problem."

King Abdullah said any military conflict with Iran would exacerbate existing problems in the Middle East.

"Any military action at the moment, whether Israeli or Iranian, to me at this stage is Pandora box because no one can guarantee what the outcome will be," said the king.  "So hopefully there is another way of resolving this problem.  At a time of so much instability in the Middle East we just don't need another thing on our shoulders."

Jordan's neighbors continue feud

The two men also discussed Mr. Obama's talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. King Abdullah said Jordan is ready to act as a "facilitator" for renewed efforts to re-start direct negotiations for a two state solution.

President Obama said his approach was to listen first and discuss ways to remove roadblocks, acknowledging his approach has been modest because ultimately it is up to the parties to want peace.

Mr. Obama ends his Mideast trip Saturday with a visit to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan before leaving for Washington.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sam from: US
March 24, 2013 12:09 PM
Desperation on the part of the Jordanian government has led the US to assist in strengthening the nation’s defenses during a time of regional crisis. An article at International Policy Digest explores how the war in Syria is affecting Jordanian security and stability.

http://www.internationalpolicydigest.org/2013/03/23/gimme-shelter-jordans-refugee-past-makes-for-an-unsure-future/

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs