Obama, Abdullah discuss options in Syria

McClatchy Washington BureauFebruary 15, 2014 

— President Barack Obama and King Abdullah II wrapped up their talks late Friday with their primary focus on the civil war in Syria, which has brought a flood of refugees into Jordan.

“This was not a meeting in which firm and final decisions were taken," a senior administration official said after the meeting. "It was very useful to delve into our respective thinking and…lay a foundation for our teams to continue to push these issues together.”

The official called on Russia to play a more constructive role in the negotiations. “As long as they remain wedded to the status quo this is going to be a difficult problem to resolve,” the official said.

The official said “a large part of what we’ve been doing is …to try to work with and press the Russians to understand that the status quo is not serving their interests either. They are much closer to the parts of Syria than we are that are becoming increasingly ungoverned and dangerous.”

Obama told Abdullah that the United States stands ready to help Jordan cope with the destitute refugees pouring in from nearby Syria even as he acknowledges enormous frustration with that nation’s ongoing civil war.

The official called the discussion, lasting more than two hours, “very constructive and cordial."

The leaders also spoke about Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Iran and Obama’s upcoming visit next month to Saudi Arabia and “themes that may be likely to arise in that context.”

They talked about the Middle East peace process and Obama “underscored our interest in and commitment to trying to reach agreement on a framework and the king expressed his strong support for all the efforts of the United States” in this area.

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