Jordan's King Abdullah Meets Pence, Discusses Peace Plan, ISIS and U.S. Presence in Syria

Amman officials have said in the past they would only support a peace plan that includes creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital

Amir Tibon
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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the 2019 Ohio Oil and Gas Association 72nd Annual Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, March 8, 2019.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the 2019 Ohio Oil and Gas Association 72nd Annual Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, March 8, 2019.Credit: Phil Long/AP
Amir Tibon

WASHINGTON — Jordanian King Abdullah met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence Monday, as the Trump administration continues preparations for the release of its Middle East peace plan.

Abdullah is visiting Washington this week to discuss several strategic issues, among them the peace plan, which could be presented shortly after Israel's April 9 Knesset election. The king was not on Trump’s official public schedule for Monday, but Pence and Trump were supposed to have lunch together an hour before the vice president’s bilateral meeting with the Jordanian leader.

The White House readout of the meeting said Pence and King Abdullah met "to discuss the bilateral relationship, the fight against ISIS, and regional dynamics.

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"The Vice President expressed the Administration’s commitment to supporting Jordan’s economy and congratulated His Majesty on the successful London Initiative meeting last month in the United Kingdom. The two leaders also discussed President Trump’s decision to maintain a residual U.S. presence in Syria and opportunities to work more closely on countering terrorism in the region."

The National reported the Jordanian Embassy as saying that “the meeting covered the latest developments in the Middle East, efforts to reach political solutions to regional crises and efforts to fight terrorism within a holistic approach.”

The meeting between Pence and Abdullah took place as the administration is ramping up its efforts to create support — or at least defuse opposition — to the peace proposal. Such efforts included a recent trip to the Gulf countries by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt, his special envoy to the Middle East.

Kushner and Greenblatt devoted their visit mainly to discussing the economic aspects of the peace plan. In addition, Greenblatt recently hosted evangelical Christian leaders in the White House to discuss their views on the subject, and hear what could be their constituency's red lines regarding a future peace proposal.

>>Read more: Kushner tries to win support for peace plan in Arab world – and inflames Israeli right | Analysis ■ Is Trump's 'Deal of the Century' just the biggest bribe in history? | Opinion 

There is still no official date for the plan’s release, but the White House is considering announcing it out shortly after the Israeli election. A White House official told Haaretz last month that among the dates for a potential release include Passover, Israel’s Independence Day (which Palestinians commemorate as the Nakba) and the month of Ramadan. In addition, there is an open question whether the White House would prefer to announce its proposal during Israel’s post-election coalition negotiations, or wait until a new government is officially formed.

Jordan has emphasized dozens of times over the past two years that it will only support a peace plan that includes the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. That remains the Kingdom’s official position. However, it does not seems likely that the Trump peace plan will include such parameters. Other Arab countries, including Egypt and the Gulf states, have made similar statements in recent weeks.