U.S. to boost aid to Jordan, despite Trump's threats


Jordan, a critical American partner in the Middle East, voted in December to condemn the United States for recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and slammed the decision to withhold millions in funding for Palestinian refugees, many of whom live in Jordan.

Tillerson, who is on a visiting tour in the Middle East, said the mandatory training was announced to State Department employees last month.

Jordanian foreign minister Ayman al-Safadi reiterated on Wednesday that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the "only solution we believe can work".

"I think it'll be up to the president to decide when he feels it's time and he's ready to put that plan forward", Mr. Tillerson said.

Following his departure from Jordan, the USA secretary of state is scheduled to visit both Lebanon and Turkey.

In December, Trump threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favour of a UN resolution calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sounded the alarm at a coalition gathering in Kuwait City. Jordanian officials were disturbed by Mr Trump's Jerusalem announcement in December previous year and said it could hurt efforts to forge a two-state solution to the conflict.

Theresa May said at the time: "We disagree with the United States decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement".

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But the Trump administration has courted King Abdullah, a moderate pro-Western Arab leader whose kingdom has long upheld United States interests in a turbulent region.

ISIS is an acronym for the militant Islamic State group.

Its economy has been battered by the conflicts in neighbouring Iraq and Syria and its public debt stands at around US$35 billion.

Mr Tillerson said continued U.S. funding for UNRWA would depend in part on whether other donors step up their contributions.

On the fight against terrorism, Tillerson stressed that both the USA and Egypt are determined to jointly pursue counterterrorism efforts.

While Israel, Syria and Iran are not members of the anti-ISIS coalition led by the US, the confrontation between longtime foes added to concerns of mounting hostilities in a region of the world already roiled by instability.

He said that the USA will continue to support the militias with which Washington collaborates in Syria, referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, stressing that his country will ensure that these groups operate professionally.

The situation in the region escalated earlier this year, after US Col. Thomas Veale said that the US-led coalition had been training the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to create a 30,000-strong force to maintain security along Syria's borders.