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Biden to host Jordan king next week amid Gaza talks

Washington – US President Joe Biden will host Jordan’s King Abdullah II next week, the White House said Friday, as negotiations continue in the Middle East for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The meeting will be “private” and will be followed by a readout, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, without giving a date for the encounter.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of talks for a deal to release hostages and secure a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza after nearly seven months of war.

The talks, which come after months of efforts by mediators Egypt, Qatar and the United States to broker a new agreement between the combatants, are at a critical juncture.

The United States has urged the Palestinian militant group to accept the “extraordinarily generous” offer.

But Hamas accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday of trying to derail the proposed Gaza deal with his threats to launch an operation in Rafah. 

King Abdullah II last visited the White House in February when he called for an immediate ceasefire and warned an attack on Rafah would cause a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

In April, Jordan worked alongside the United States and other allies to shoot down Iranian drones that Tehran sent towards Israel, with the kingdom keen to avoid a wider conflict.

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