Hagel Places Jordan Among Most Important Middle East Partners
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
AMMAN, Jordan, April 23, 2013 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met here today with Jordan’s Lt. Gen. Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein and Gen. Mashal al-Zaben, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Jordanian armed forces, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, meets with Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein in Amman, Jordan, April 23, 2013. Hagel is on a six-day trip to the Middle East, where he is visiting counterparts in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The United States and Jordan -- which Hagel said is one of the most important U.S. partners in the region -- share concerns about the crisis in Syria and continue to consult closely on issues including chemical weapons and demands posed by the influx of Syrian refugees fleeing the violence, Little added.
During the meeting, Hagel reaffirmed the closeness of the U.S.-Jordan strategic relationship and reiterated the DOD commitment to working with the Jordanian armed forces to address common challenges, the press secretary said.
The leaders discussed Hagel’s decision, announced April 17, to sustain U.S. military personnel in Jordan to foster even closer planning, improve joint readiness, and prepare for a range of scenarios, Little noted.
Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the secretary ordered the Army deployment to help Jordanian forces defend their border with Syria. The contingent will enhance the efforts of a small U.S. military team that has been working in Jordan since last year on planning related to chemical weapons and preventing a spillover of violence across Jordan’s borders, Hagel told the Senate panel.
DOD personnel and interagency partners are helping Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and other Syrian neighbors counter the threat posed by Syria’s chemical weapons, Hagel said during the hearing.
The secretary, Prince Faisal and Zaben agreed to continue to work closely together to support mutual objectives, develop capacity and provide military assistance as needed to the Jordanian armed forces, Little said.
Hagel commended Jordan on its decision to keep borders open to refugees fleeing the violence in Syria, the press secretary said, adding that Jordan now hosts nearly 500,000 Syrian refugees.
In addition to about $409 million in humanitarian assistance the United States has provided to those affected by the violence in Syria, Little said, DOD has provided more than $1.2 million in goods such as food, water, medical supplies and power generators through the Jordanian armed forces to help in the care and transport of refugees coming across the border.
DOD also has provided more than $70 million to Jordan this year to help secure its borders and prevent chemical-weapons transfer, Little said.
Hagel’s trip to the Middle East, which began April 20 and will end April 26, also will take the secretary to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to discuss common threats and interests in the region.