The remarks were issued against the backdrop of a surge of Palestinian terror attacks against Israel and corresponding raids by Israeli security forces to root out terror in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
By Erin Viner
Austin arrived in the Hashemite Kingdom at the start of a Middle East tour that will include trips to Israel and Egypt in a show of support for his country’s main Mideast allies against the growing threat posed by Iran, said Washington officials.
Ahead of his departure, General Austin wrote on Twitter that he would meet key leaders and “reaffirm the US commitment to regional stability and advancing the shared interests of our allies and partners.”
King Abdullah, whose country hosted the first Israeli-Palestinian meeting in Aqaba last week with the participation of top American and Egyptian officials, said efforts must be accelerated to bring about a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal based on a Two-State Solution.
“There is a need for calm and to reduce escalation in Palestinian territories and stop any unilateral steps that undermined stability and abort chances of attaining peace,” said a statement issued by the royal palace following the monarch’s talks with the top US military official.
According to Jordanian officials, Abdullah also requested US assistance to combat a rising drug war along its borders with Syria blamed on Iranian-backed proxy militias. Amman reportedly requested more military aid from Washington to bolster security on the 375 km-long shared border. Since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, the US has provided about $1 billion to establish border posts, said the officials.
Austin will address US concerns over the West Bank violence that has raised alarm by Arab leaders. Diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions ahead of Muslim and Jewish religious holidays are also on the agenda, said US officials.
Threats Iran poses to the region will also top talks, with particular attention focused on advancing multilateral security cooperation with integrated air and missile defense systems, said the US Defense Department.
The “full constellation of Iran-associated threats” will be discussed, a senior defense official was cited as saying on the Pentagon’s official site ahead of Secretary Lloyd’s tour, including the “arming, training and funding of violent proxy groups, aggression at sea, cyber threats, its ballistic missile program and drone attacks.”