President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at the White House on Monday as the administration continues talks on a possible hostage release deal in the Israel-Hamas war and has criticized Israel’s planned ground assault on the Gaza city of Rafah.
The two leaders plan to discuss “the ongoing situation in Gaza and efforts to produce an enduring end to the crisis,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. The discussion will include the “U.S. effort to support the Palestinian people including through enhanced humanitarian assistance into Gaza and a vision for a durable peace to include a two-state solution with Israel’s security guaranteed,” she said.
The meeting between Biden and Abdullah marks their first since three American solders were killed in a drone strike at a base in northeast Jordan last month. The United States has attributed the strike to militant groups being supported by Iran, and the president and first lady Jill Biden attended the transfer of the slain soldiers at at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware this month.
The administration is engaged in talks on a possible hostage release deal, which includes Biden sending CIA Director William Burns to Egypt on Tuesday. Intelligence chiefs from the U.S., Israel and Egypt and Qatar’s prime minister have negotiated a possible framework that would include a six-week pause in the fighting, the exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, and a plan for humanitarian assistance to reach Gaza.
U.S. officials said they believe there has been major progress made on a hostage release deal that could come as soon as this week, a senior administration official told reporters Sunday after Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“It’s pretty much there,” the official said on the call with reporters, stressing that there are still “some significant issues that have to close.”
The official said Biden and Netanyahu spent two-thirds of their call Sunday discussing the hostage negotiations. Biden expressed concerns over Israel’s military operation in Rafah because a large number of civilians had been directed there earlier in the war, the official said. Biden and Netanyahu had a “pretty detailed back and forth on that,” the official said.
While privately expressing frustration with Netanyahu’s military approach, Biden has continued to show unequivocal support for Israel, NBC News has reported.