JEDDAH: 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.