AMMAN — While U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell was in Egypt to discuss regional efforts to secure a comprehensive peace plan, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates was in Jordan to discuss U.S.-Jordanian relations with King Abdullah.
Aides claimed that the talks were friendly in nature, but security officials indicated that the Jordanian leadership was concerned about predictions that an increase in U.S. military aid to the Arabian Gulf states could adversely affect U.S. assistance to Jordan. Gates assured King Abdullah that would not be the case.
During a press conference after his meeting with the king on July 27, Gates said, "Regardless of any agreements or bilateral or multilateral deals that the United States might conclude in the region, there will be no reduction in military aid to Jordan."
The U.S. has increased military assistance to Arabian Gulf states in response to their concerns about Iran's growing war of words. U.S. officials earlier stated that if Tehran continued to pursue its controversial nuclear activities, the U.S. would do so.
Jordan currently receives about US$360 million in economic aid and nearly $300 million in military assistance each year.
Aides added that Gates and King Abdullah discussed current regional developments and ongoing security concerns. The king stressed that it is important that the United States continue to promote efforts to reach a two-state solution between the Palestinians and Israelis.
The two leaders also discussed the security situation in Iraq and the idea of increasing aid to the Iraqi government. Gates told King Abdullah that Jordan played an important and pivotal role in engaging with Iraq and thanked the Jordanian monarch for the kingdom's leadership in assisting Iraq to become an effective and active member in the regional community once again.