US President Barack Obama and Jordan’s King Abdullah have presented a united front against the Syrian government. Obama, visiting Jordan after his trip to Israel, also promised help to care for refugees.
The civil war raging across the border in Jordan’s northerly neighbor dominated discussion between Obama and King Abdullah.
The monarch, who pointed out that the Syrian refugees equated to some 10 percent of Jordan’s entire population, said his country would not close its borders. It was, the king said, "a challenge that we can’t just turn out backs on."
Obama pledged that he would work with Congress to provide $200 million in extra help for Jordan to look after the some 460,000 refugees who have arrived since the Syria conflict began.
The president also expressed wariness about Syria becoming a center of extremism if al-Assad were forced from power.
"I am very concerned about Syria becoming an enclave for extremism because extremists thrive in chaos, they thrive in failed states, they thrive in power vacuums," Obama said at a press conference following the talks.
"They're very good about exploiting situations that, you know, are no longer functioning. They fill that gap," Obama said.
Obama wrapped up his first visit to Israel as president earlier on Friday, embracing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he had quarreled during his first term in office.
The president also visited the grave of Theodor Herzl, known as the father of modern Zionism, before paying his respects at the grave of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
On a tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Obama said he was reminded of the barbarism "that unfolds when we begin to see our fellow human beings as somehow less than us."
rc/mkg (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)