Newly-appointed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday defended U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision late last year to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
He made the remarks at a press conference convened with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi, in capital Amman.
Pompeo pointed out that Trump’s landmark Dec. 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had included no reference to the city’s sovereign borders, going on to stress Washington’s continued support for a “two-state solution” to the conflict.
He also said that the US administration had urged the Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table with Israel, going on to state that the U.S. supported Israel’s right to defend itself.
The U.S. secretary of state also said Syria should not be allowed to become a safe haven for the Daesh terrorist group, stressing that numerous countries — including the U.S. — had contributed to de-escalating the crisis in that country.
He added, however, that the use of chemical weapons would not be tolerated.
Al-Safadi, for his part, said Jordan, too, sought a two-state solution to Middle East conflict, emphasizing the need to “ensure the existence of an independent Palestinian state”.
Asserting that Palestine-Israel talks should be resumed as soon as possible, the Jordanian FM added: “Our aim, like that of the U.S., is to create a region free of conflict.”
Later Monday, Pompeo is scheduled to meet with Jordanian King Abdullah II.
Pompeo arrived in Amman late Sunday for the last leg of a regional tour that also took him to Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Last December, U.S. President Donald Trump drew condemnation and protest from across the Arab and Muslim world after announcing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since 1967 — might eventually serve as capital of an independent Palestinian state.
In a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its “eternal and undivided” capital.
International law continues to view the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and considers all Jewish settlement construction there as illegal.