King Abdullah is set to have a working breakfast with Vice President Kamala Harris, and to meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken, reports Asian Lite News

The US “will always be there for Jordan,” President Joe Biden told King Abdullah on Monday as the Jordanian monarch arrived in Washington for an official visit.

Biden called the king a “good, loyal, decent friend.”

“You’ve always been there, and we will always be there for Jordan,” he said.

Abdullah said his region has many challenges. “You can always count on me, my country and many of our colleagues in the region,” he told Biden.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said talks between the king and the president would be “an opportunity to discuss the many challenges facing the Middle East and showcase Jordan’s leadership role in promoting peace and stability in the region.”

The two leaders are expected to discuss the conflict in Syria, from where more than 1 million refugees have fled to Jordan, and a difficult security situation in Iraq, a US administration official said. At least eight drone attacks and 17 rocket attacks have targeted the US military presence in Iraq since Biden took office in January.

King Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi visited Baghdad in June for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi. The Biden administration sees Jordan as a moderate voice in the region that can help “balance and counter” some of the more malign influence coming from Iran, the administration official said.

The Jordanian king had a difficult relationship with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, who he saw as undercutting the prospect of peace between Israelis and Palestinians with his 2017 declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Biden has no plans to reverse US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital.

King Abdullah is the first Arab leader to meet face-to-face with Biden. The president will host Kadhimi at the White House next week, and Biden has invited Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, to visit later this summer.

King Abdullah is also set to have a working breakfast on Tuesday with Vice President Kamala Harris, and to meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein are expected to join King Abdullah for the White House visit.

F-16 upgrade

Biden and King Abdullah during a meeting at the White House discussed US support to modernize Amman’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets, the White House.

“The leaders reflected on the strategic US-Jordan defence relationship,” the release said on Monday. “They discussed US support for the modernization of Jordan’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets, which will allow for greater interoperability and effectiveness of the Jordanian Armed Forces.”

Biden and Abdullah also discussed significant challenges in Syria, especially on efforts to ensure humanitarian aid reaches Syrians, the release said.

The Biden administration intends to strengthen bilateral cooperation in multiple areas in the coming months, including on economic matters, the release said.

Help to fight Covid-19

In the meeting, the President announced the delivery of over 500,000 Covid-19 vaccines to Jordan and both leaders also weighed in on the US-Jordan defence relationship, the Syrian crisis. As per the readout of the meeting provided by the White House, “President Biden confirmed unwavering U.S. support for Jordan and His Majesty’s leadership. He was proud to announce the delivery of over 500,000 Covid-19 vaccines to Jordan, underscoring the US commitment to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.”

ALSO READ: Biden to host King Abdullah for broad array of Middle East talks

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