US President Joe Biden’s top White House adviser on the Middle East is on a hush-hush mission to patch up widening rifts between traditional allies of Washington in the region, according to sources familiar with the trip.
Over the last 24 hours, the White House National Security Council’s Middle East policy coordinator, Brett McGurk, has made stops in Iraq and Jordan where, according to Jordan’s Royal Hashemite Court, he discussed “means of enhancing strategic partnership” between Washington and Amman during his meeting with King Abdullah II.
McGurk also met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, the state-run Petra news agency reported noting that Biden’s special coordinator for Global Infrastructure and Energy Security, Amos Hochstein, who had already been in the region after participating in the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi, was also present in the meeting.
The talks between the US officials and Safadi tackled regional issues – including in Palestine and Syria- the fight against terrorism, and support for Iraq and Lebanon.
Safadi underscored Washington’s central and leading role in efforts to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and to solve the conflict in line with international law and approved references and on the basis of the two-state solution.
McGurk and Hochstein are also expected to head the delegation to visit Israel in the coming hours, sources told Al Arabiya English.
According to Randa Slim, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, they were in Amman as part of the Biden administration’s concerns over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its efforts to get Jordan to join the Negev Forum after Amman refused to participate as long as the Palestinians were omitted.
Per media reports, King Abdullah is expected to visit the United States in the coming months.
In the second part of the mission, McGurk and Hochstein traveled to Iraq to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani, who supported in a statement over the weekend the continued presence of US troops in his country.
The US Embassy in Baghdad said that McGurk and Hochstein confirmed Washington’s commitment to the Strategic Framework Agreement, emphasizing the coordination and programs to support the Iraq government’s reforms in energy, infrastructure, and climate.
Reaffirmed the US’s commitment to helping Iraqi forces in their fight against Islamic State, McGurk also welcomed Bagdad’s recent progress in resolving differences with the Kurdistan Regional Government with respect to revenue sharing and energy exports.
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