Obama holds talks with Jordan’s king

President Obama waves to the media as he greets Jordan's King Abdullah II at The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Feb. 14, 2014.
  • Jordan is struggling to manage the influx of refugees from the civil war in Syria.
  • Jordan is a key Arab ally and stabilizing force in ther region.
  • Obama said he will seek %241 billion in loan guarantees for Jordan.
  • President Obama arrived Friday evening at the Sunnylands Estate in Rancho Mirage.

    His motorcade arrived at the Annenberg retreat at 7:34 p.M., About 30 minutes after Air Force One landed at Palm Springs International Airport.

    Abdullah’s motorcade pulled up to the Annenberg estate less than 20 minutes later, at 7:52 pm.

    Obama came out from the house, wearing a dark suit, blue shirt and no tie. He greeted the king warmly, shaking hands. Abdullah wore a gray suit and blue shirt with no tie.

    “Good to see you,” Obama said, before asking how he had been and asking about the family. The men then went inside the house.

    In the living room, Obama and Abdullah sat beneath a portrait of George Washington.

    “It is a great pleasure to welcome my good friend,” Obama said in brief remarks to reporters.

    “It’s wonderful to be able to host him here at the beautiful Sunnylands,” Obama said. “This gives me an opportunity to have an extensive consultation with his majesty.”.

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    Obama praised the U.S. Relationship with Jordan.

    “I think it’s fair to say that we have very few friends, partners and allies around the world who have been as steadfast and reliable as his majesty,” Obama said.

    The United States and Jordan have a longstanding and mutually beneficial friendship that has been a key piece of U.S. Policy in the Middle East. The United States has been providing more than $1 billion a year in aid to Jordan, and has looked to Abdullah to be an ally in advocating for peace in the Middle East.

    The president described the Middle East as “a region that is obviously going through tremendous change.”.

    He also announced a $1 billion loan guarantee fund, and extended for five years a memorandum of understanding that allows Jordan to pursue developments.

    A loan guarantee essentially makes the U.S. Responsible for repaying the money should Jordan default.

    “Our cooperation on a whole host of issues is extensive,” Obama said.

    Syria’s civil war has been taking a toll on neighboring Jordan, as hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled across the border, crowding into communities and placing strains on the country’s public services and infrastructure.

    About 600,000 Syrian refugees now live in the country of 6.5 million people, and the numbers of refugees are expected to continue growing.

    Obama said the situation could not be solved overnight, but that there would be discussions of the “immediate steps,” including humanitarian aid.

    The “people in Jordan have been very generous,” Obama said.

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    The president ended his remarks by describing Abdullah as a “very capable and trustworthy partner.”.

    The king expressed his gratitude to meet with Obama and discussed the “challenges” of the region.

    He also praised the role the United States has taken in the peace process.

    “The leadership the United States has shown has been critical,” Abdullah said, adding that it has “given me a lot of hope.”.

    Abdullah expressed concern about rise of extremism in Syria, saying “I’m sure our views are similar.”.

    “Jordan is a resilient country,” Abdullah said. “We see ourselves as an oasis.”.

    The opening remarks lasted about nine minutes, ending at 8:05 p.M.

    Obama and Abdullah were scheduled to have a working dinner at the Annenberg home. No menu has been released.

    Abdullah’s visit was the first by a Jordanian royal to the Sunnylands estate, the home of late diplomats Walter and Leonore Annenberg that has been used by presidents for decades as a retreat and venue for international talks.

    It was Obama’s second visit to Sunnylands in less than eight months, following a June summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the estate.

    Obama was accompanied at the talks by National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

    Reporter Ian James and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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