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Obama: US to Work Closely with Jordan on Mideast Talks

January 17, 2012

Kent Klein | White House

President Barack Obama says the United States will consult closely with Jordan to advance peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The president met Tuesday in the White House with Jordan’s King Abdullah.

After the meeting, President Obama thanked the Jordanian monarch for hosting Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in three meetings this month.

The president said he would stay in close contact with the king, and he offered any help necessary in bringing the two sides back to the talks.

“We talked about the importance of us continuing to consult closely together to encourage the Palestinians and the Israelis to come back to the table and negotiate, in a serious fashion, a peaceful way forward," said President Obama. "And the Jordanians have taken great leadership on this issue, and we very much appreciate their direction on this issue.”

King Abdullah said the latest effort to get the talks moving again is just underway.

“Although this is still in the very early stages, we have to keep our fingers crossed and hope that we can bring the Israelis and Palestinians out of the impasse that we are facing," said King Abdullah. "And we are in coordination on a regular basis with the president as well as with his administration.”

The meetings in Jordan are supported by the international Quartet of Mideast peace negotiators - the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union. The Quartet hopes the Israelis and Palestinians can reach an agreement by the end of the year.

But the talks have stagnated for some time, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the Palestinians are not ready to restart negotiations.

President Obama said much has changed in the Middle East since his previous meeting with King Abdullah last May. He mentioned the new governments in Egypt and Libya, and the bloodshed in Syria.

“Unfortunately, we are continuing to see unacceptable levels of violence inside that country," he said. "And so we will continue to consult very closely with Jordan to create the kind of international pressure and environment that encourages the current Syrian regime to step aside.”

The president thanked King Abdullah for being the first Arab leader to call on Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to step down.

As reform efforts move through Middle Eastern countries, Mr. Obama said the king has been “ahead of the curve” in trying to respond to the legitimate concerns and aspirations of his own people.

The president said he and the king discussed Iran and Iraq, but he did not elaborate.

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