WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama pledged Tuesday to cooperate closely with Jordan, a key ally in the Middle East, in order to push Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a peace accord in a "serious fashion," even as a fresh attempt at talks shows little signs of progress.
Jordan's King Abdullah II, whose country has hosted three meetings this month between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, emphasized that the talks were in the early stages.
"We have to keep our fingers crossed," Abdullah said after an Oval Office meeting with Obama.
The Jordan meetings are taking place under the auspices of the international Quartet of Mideast peace mediators — the U.S., United Nations, European Union and Russia. The Quartet hopes to broker a peace deal by the end of this year.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tamped down the prospect of progress this week, charging that the Palestinians "have no interest in entering peace talks."
"I'm ready to travel now to Ramallah to start peace talks with Abu Mazen, without preconditions. But the simple truth is that Abu Mazen is not ready," Netanyahu said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is widely known as Abu Mazen.