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Obama threatens Syrian president with more pressure


US President Barack Obama has threatened that he will step up pressure on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Obama’s threat came after he hosted King Abdullah II of Jordan at the Sunnylands retreat in Palm Springs, California, where the two discussed, among other things, the unrest in Syria.

The US president said on Friday that he and his royal guest had decided they should take steps “to apply more pressure to the Assad regime.”

“We are going to need a political transition in that region,” Obama said in what sounded like a veiled reference to the announced goal of removing President Assad.

“There will be some intermediate steps that we can take to apply more pressure to the Assad regime, and we’re going to be continuing to work with all the parties concerned to try to move forward on a diplomatic solution,” he said, without specifying what those steps might be.

Several reports have shown over the past year that the US has been covertly training insurgents in Jordan to fight against the Syrian government.

Reports have also revealed that the US shipped weapons to Jordan in order to arm the foreign-backed militant groups.

During the meeting with Jordan’s king, Obama also pledged $1 billion in loan guarantees to Jordan and a renewal of a five-year aid package, which is worth $660 million a year and expires in September.

Shortly after the Geneva II talks between representatives of the Syrian government and the foreign-backed opposition ended with no deals on February 1, insurgents said that Washington had increased direct funding to their commanders in Jordan in order to ramp up pressure on Assad’s government before the next round of talks.

“From now until the next round of talks in Geneva, Assad will be under real pressure — he will feel more pressure from opposition forces,” a militant commander cited a US official as saying.

The “next round of talks in Geneva,” to which the US official had referred, broke off without any results on Saturday as both the Syrian opposition and government officials confirmed that they have been unable to make any progress, with each side sticking to its own position.

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