- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 15, 2014

President Obama announced late Friday night that the U.S. will provide a $1 billion loan guarantee to Jordan, money meant to help the nation deal with the flood of refugees that have crossed over from Syria to escape a bloody civil war.

Mr. Obama made the announcement during a bilateral meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at a private retreat in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The president also said he intends to renew a five-year memorandum of understanding with Jordan, worth about $360 million in direct economic support and another $300 million in military financing, according to the White House.

Mr. Obama said both the agreement and the $1 billion loan are designed to help Jordanian economic development overall, but also said the deteriorating situation in Syria has placed a burden on Jordan that other countries must help bear.

“The people of Jordan have been very generous in absorbing hundreds of thousands of displaced persons from that war-ravaged country,” Mr. Obama said at the outset of his meeting with the king. “It puts a great strain on the resources of Jordan and it’s very important for us to make sure that we’re supportive of the kingdom in accommodating all these refugees.”

More broadly, the two leaders agreed the situation in Syria is a top international priority and one that must be dealt with for the good of the entire region. Thus far, however, peace negotiations between Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebel groups have gone nowhere.

As the fighting continues, Mr. Abdullah said he views Jordan as “an oasis of stability” in a region often fraught with violence.

“Our major concern in the area is the rise of extremism in Syria, the sectarian violence, and if we don’t find a solution, the spillover in the region and the effect that will have,” the king said.

“We do hope that the rest of the international community also steps up and catches up in the support not only for the Syrian refugees, but also the impact it has on Jordanians and Jordanian infrastructure.”

Mr. Obama will remain in California all weekend, returning to Washington on Monday.

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