x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 December 2017

King of Jordan holds high level talks in Washington with focus on Syria and the Middle East peace process 

The king met with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss defeating ISIL and countering Iranian influence

US Vice President Mike Pence, left, shakes hands with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US Vice President Mike Pence, left, shakes hands with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II met in Washington on Monday with Vice President Mike Pence and senior members of the administration to discuss bilateral relations and regional developments.

The White House said Mr Pence “held a productive meeting” with the Jordanian leader, focussed on “efforts in defeating ISIL and countering Iranian influence.”

“Other important topics the two leaders discussed included the strengthening of the bi-lateral relationship and how to best move forward to ensure a stable and safe Middle East” the statement added.

King Abdullah, on his fourth visit to the United States since Donald Trump took office last January, also received national security adviser HR McMaster accompanied by his deputy Dina Habib Powell and NSC director Mike Bell.

A White House official told The National that King Abdullah also "met today [Monday] with Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and others to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace."

Mr Kushner is a senior adviser at the White House to his father in law, Donald Trump, and Mr Greenblatt is the special US envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The King who arrived in Washington last week is also expected to meet congressional leaders and chairs of appropriations and foreign relations committees in both chambers.

The visit and the discussions covered “means to bolster Jordan’s strategic partnership with the United States” including economic cooperation and “the renewal of the memorandum of understanding...which will set the volume of economic and military support for the coming years,” according to the Jordanian Media and Communications Directorate.

On Syria, Jordan’s role has been instrumental in brokering ceasefire deals between US and Russia in the south of the country. But Amman also has concerns of rising Iranian influence on its northern border, and the presence of Tehran backed proxies in that area.

The visit also comes as the US administration is wrapping up its consultations on the peace process and may present its own plan to resolve the seven-decade-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Jordan has equities in the peace process, direct interest in status of Jerusalem, stability in the West bank and latest reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah” said Ghaith Al Omari, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Mr Al Omari told The National that King Abdullah will likely ask for more clarity and details from the Trump administration on how it plans to move the process forward. “Right now there isn’t much clarity or substantive ideas from US on how to pursue the peace process” he said.

“There is a clear intent from Mr Trump to do something but they are still in listening mode and have not presented a path to move forward” Mr Al Omari added.

In his meetings with US officials as well, the King of Jordan addressed the developments in Iraq in light of the improved relations between Baghdad and Amman, and the progress made in the fight against ISIL.