Biden to meet Jordan’s king, who wants Gaza ceasefire

By Thomson Reuters Feb 12, 2024 | 10:02 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will meet Jordan’s King Abdullah at the White House on Monday, coming face-to-face with a longtime ally who has been vocal in calling for a Gaza ceasefire.

The two leaders are to hold Oval Office talks, then make statements to the news media.

The meeting comes as Biden has become increasingly vocal in his demand that Israel not undertake a ground offensive in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah without a plan to protect Palestinian civilians who are massed there.

Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, and the White House said he stressed that “a military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering there.”

Before embarking on a tour of Western capitals, Abdullah participated in an airdrop of humanitarian aid to Gaza, a move that highlighted his kingdom’s role in pushing Israel to stop restricting efforts to help fend off illness, hunger and starvation in the war-torn enclave.

The king, who has been vocal in calling for an end to Israel’s campaign, is expected to urge Biden to support an immediate ceasefire.

Biden’s team has been trying to negotiate a pause in the fighting in order to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas since the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza launched an attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people.

Palestinian health officials estimate that more than 28,000 people in Gaza have been killed in Israel’s offensive against Hamas fighters.

A senior Biden administration official told reporters on Sunday that Biden’s meeting with the king would focus on ending the war in Gaza.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Andrea Shalald; editing by Jonathan Oatis)