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Biden, Jordan’s King Abdullah discuss hostage release efforts amid Gaza conflict

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President Joe Biden welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah II to the White House on Monday for discussions regarding ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages amid the protracted conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, now in its fifth month.

The meeting between the two leaders highlighted the mounting pressure on President Biden to intensify efforts toward resolving the conflict. Standing together in the White House’s Cross Hall, both leaders emphasized their friendship while also subtly acknowledging their differences, particularly concerning a potential cease-fire and an anticipated Israeli ground operation in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza.

While President Biden cautiously suggested a longer pause in fighting as part of a hostage release agreement, King Abdullah urged for an immediate and lasting cease-fire, emphasizing the urgency of ending the war. President Biden acknowledged the complexities of the situation, noting that while significant progress had been made in negotiations, there were still gaps to be addressed.

The discussions centered around ongoing diplomatic efforts led by the United States, Egypt, and Qatar aimed at securing the release of hostages held by Hamas. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent diplomatic mission to the Middle East underscored the challenges, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting a proposed deal from Hamas. Despite these setbacks, the U.S. remains committed to finding a viable agreement.

Regarding Israel’s planned ground operations in Rafah, President Biden reiterated the need for a credible plan to ensure the safety of civilians seeking shelter in the city. In contrast, King Abdullah warned against any Israeli attack on Rafah, emphasizing the potential humanitarian consequences.

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, reaffirmed U.S. support for Israel’s efforts to counter Hamas but stressed the importance of protecting civilian lives. President Biden’s stance reflects the delicate balance between supporting Israel and advocating for Palestinian safety, amidst growing criticism of his administration’s approach to the conflict.

President Biden’s meeting with King Abdullah comes at a critical juncture, with both leaders reaffirming their commitment to a two-state solution, despite opposition from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Against the backdrop of escalating tensions in the region, the White House continues to navigate the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, balancing diplomatic initiatives with strategic considerations for regional stability.

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