Obama, Jordan’s King Abdullah to Discuss Mideast Crises

Posted January 17th, 2012 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is meeting Jordan's King Abdullah at the White House Tuesday at a time of numerous crises in the Middle East.

Announcing the meeting last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney named the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as one of the main topics of discussion.

Jordan has been mediating talks to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table, with support from the international Middle East Quartet .

Carney has said the Obama administration applauds the king's efforts to bring the parties together. Earlier this month, President Obama spoke with King Abdullah by phone to congratulate him on Jordan's role in convening meetings in Amman between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

The January talks represent the first known contact between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators since peace talks broke down in September 2010 over the issue of Israeli settlement construction on occupied land.

The U.S. and Jordanian leaders will likely address other Middle East crises, including rising tensions with Iran.

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the chairman of Islamic Studies at Washington's American University, tells VOA he expects that King Abdullah will try to dissuade Mr. Obama and the United States' Israeli allies from solving their Iran problem by force.

Iran has stepped up efforts to produce enriched uranium, which Israel and the U.S. suspect is part of an effort to build nuclear weapons. An Iranian nuclear scientist was killed in a car bombing about a week ago. Iran and the U.S. have warned each other about ships in the Persian Gulf, and Iran has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

At the same time, Syria's government continues a violent campaign against anti-government protesters.

The president and the king have both condemned the violent response of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government to protesters.

American University's Ahmed thinks the two leaders are likely to discuss steps against the government in Damascus, possibly including economic or diplomatic sanctions, and potential aid to those opposing President Assad.