Obama Meets With Jordanian King

President Obama met with the King of Jordan at the White House Tuesday. The meeting comes ahead of a major speech on the Middle East and the Muslim world that Obama plans to deliver on Thursday. One day later, he confers with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And I'm Michele Norris.

President Obama sat down today at the White House with the king of Jordan. They talked about the popular unrest in the Middle East, the king's promised reforms and the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. On that last point, the Obama administration is still debating what to do.

And as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, the White House is preparing for another visitor: Israeli's prime minister.

MICHELE KELEMEN: President Obama gave Jordan's King Abdullah a boost on the home front, saying the U.S. will provide food aid and financial assistance to help stabilize the cost of living while the government implements promised reforms. He also said he agrees with King Abdullah that in the midst of the changes sweeping through the Middle East, it's more vital than ever to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

President BARACK OBAMA: Jordan, obviously, with its own peace with Israel, has an enormous stake in this. The United States has an enormous stake in this. We will continue to partner to try to encourage an equitable and just solution to a problem that has been nagging the region for many, many years.

KELEMEN: But President Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, recently resigned, and White House officials are not raising any expectations that President Obama will offer new ideas any time soon to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which the Jordanian king calls the core issue in the region.

President Obama is likely to hear a very different message later in the week from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli's ambassador here, Michael Oren, says Israel has been ready and willing to talk with the Palestinians, but there's a new twist to consider.

Ambassador MICHAEL OREN (Israeli Ambassador to the United States): It's very difficult to renew talks when, A, the Palestinians have refused to sit down with us, and now, B, further, now, they're making a national unity government with Hamas, which is recognized both by the United States as well as by the European Union as a terrorist organization that's openly committed to Israel's destruction.

KELEMEN: In an interview, Ambassador Oren made clear that Israel also does not like the Palestinian plan to ask the United Nations General Assembly in September to recognize an independent state of Palestine, but he gave no indication that Netanyahu would come with any new diplomatic initiative to counter this move.

Amb. OREN: The Palestinians have to make a choice. Their choice is between peace and terror. We're offering them the opportunity to make peace. If they're committed to declaring their state unilaterally, which will not bring about peace, then there's little we can do.

KELEMEN: But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas writes in an op-ed in The New York Times today that it is Israel that has a choice to make, between a two-state solution or what he calls settlement colonies.

Abbas is going to the U.N. out of frustration that years of talks with Israel have gone nowhere, while Israel continues to build up Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. As Abbas sees it, U.N. membership will help Palestinians negotiate from a position of strength and clear the way for Palestinian legal claims against Israel.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.

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