Obama, King Abdullah to meet at serene California estate

Feb. 14, 2014 at 11:58 AM
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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A Southern California estate in Rancho Mirage offers heads of state a serene setting to discuss sensitive subjects, a Heritage Foundation research fellow said.

President Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah II were to meet at the Sunnylands estate Friday to discuss opportunities to strengthen the U.S.-Jordanian strategic partnership and to consult on regional developments, the White House said.

Obama and Abdullah are expected to discuss, among other things, the crushing number of refugees fleeing violence in Syria, Jordan's neighbor, the Los Angeles Times said. Jordan is seeking more assistance for the effort.

Heritage Foundation research fellow James Phillips told the Times the setting is perfect for serious discussions.

"It's a more intimate atmosphere," Phillips said, "and serves as kind of a quiet tribute to the importance accorded to U.S.-Jordanian relations and to one of our more important allies."

Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the two countries have strong military, intelligence and diplomatic relationships.

"Jordan is in between a whole bunch of places we care about," he told the Times. "So if there's a domino in the Middle East, many people calculate that that domino is Jordan. We have to keep it from falling the wrong way."

Last year, Obama scheduled a two-day session with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss cybersecurity at Sunnylands, a 200-acre oasis in the desert built in the 1960s by publisher Walter Annenberg.

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