Jordan's King Abdullah discusses regional challenges with Congress before Biden meeting

Monarch's international tour ends in US as Palestinian-Israeli conflict worsens

US President Joe Biden hosts Jordan's King Abdullah at the White House in May 2022. Photo: Jordanian Royal Palace
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King Abdullah II of Jordan met US congressional leaders in Washington on Tuesday before a White House meeting with President Joe Biden, which will take place later in the week.

The royal visit comes at a critical moment in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with tension soaring after a week that included a deadly raid in the West Bank's Jenin, strikes in Gaza and a mass shooting at a synagogue on the outskirts of East Jerusalem.

King Abdullah said he was "delighted to be back" on Capitol Hill, where he was joined by Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein.

The king also met members of the House Armed Services Committee and had a one-on-one discussion with Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

"We have challenges, obviously, in our region, and I look forward to discussing them with you today," he told Mr McCarthy.

"I'm just always thankful for what this building does for Jordan."

The Jordanian royal family members are the first foreign leaders to visit Mr McCarthy since he was elected Speaker this month.

"Your work to bring peace to the Middle East is just integral to where we go," Mr McCarthy told King Abdullah.

In his meetings with the House Armed Services Committee, King Abdullah stressed Amman's "keenness to advance its partnership with the United States in the military and defence fields", the Royal Hashemite Court said.

In a statement, the Royal Hashemite Court said King Abdullah and Mr Biden will meet at the White House on Thursday.

Their discussions are expected to centre on "the latest regional and international developments, especially those connected to the Palestinian cause and the pivotal US role in this regard, in addition to the ramifications of the Ukraine crisis", the statement read.

Mr Biden "is very much looking forward to seeing the king again", White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. He added that he expected talks to also tackle Iran's role in the region.

King Abdullah last visited Washington in May, when he also met Mr Biden, after a separate bout of violence in the West Bank.

King Abdullah's visit to Washington is part of a tour that started last week and included stops in Qatar and Canada.

In Ontario, King Abdullah and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed global security, expressing "deep concern about the deteriorating situation in the West Bank and Gaza".

Jordan's King Abdullah meets Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

"They emphasised the need to stop all unilateral and provocative measures that undermine the two-state solution, increase tension and lead to violence," a joint statement read.

"They also encouraged efforts to relaunch peace negotiations to achieve the two-state solution that will ensure an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state."

Last week, King Abdullah met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a surprise visit to neighbouring Jordan on his first international trip since coming back to power.

The Jordanian ruler told Mr Netanyahu that Israel should respect the "historic and legal status quo in the holy Aqsa Mosque and not violate it", Jordan's royal court said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is visiting the Middle East this week, agreed to work together with Egypt to defuse tension, although Washington remains a staunch supporter of the Israeli military.

Updated: January 31, 2023, 8:46 PM