- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

President Trump welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah II to the White House on Wednesday, kicking off a day of talks on Middle East peace, the fight against the Islamic State terror group and the crisis in Syria.

Mr. Trump and first lady Melania greeted King Abdullah and Queen Rania Al-Abdullah at the West Wing portico, where they posed for photographers but didn’t make remarks.

A Middle East peace deal is expected to top the agenda, but Jordan is a key U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and the president’s plan to destroy the terrorists will be part of the discussions.

Jordan also could play an important role in the U.S. response to the deadly chemical attack Tuesday in Syria, which the White House blamed on the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

In his traditional role as Mideast mediator, King Abdullah will present a tantalizing opening for a Israel-Palestinian peace deal, which Mr. Trump has said is a top priority.

Arab leaders at their annual summit last week in Jordan reached a broad consensus on recognizing Israel in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

It’s the same offered to Israel in 2002. But that effort collapsed over the proposed border, which took back territory Israel captured in the 1967 war.

This time, Mr. Trump hopes his negotiating skill will produce a better outcome.

Mr. Trump ran as a staunch supporter of Israel, but has positioned himself more in the center of the Middle East dispute since taking office.

Tempering his support for Israel, he called on the Jewish state to slow down new settlements on occupied land, and he backed off his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a move that would have been infuriated the Palestinians.

The president also alarmed Arab countries by declaring that a peace deal did not have to be a two-state solution, which is their foremost demand.

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