President Obama’s Bilateral Meeting with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan

“Of great urgency right now obviously is the situation in Syria. Jordan has experienced a huge influx of refugees coming into the country from Syria, people who’ve been displaced. Jordan historically has maintained open borders and allowed these refugees on a humanitarian basis to come in, but it’s an enormous strain on a small country. And we are mobilizing international support to help with these refugees, but obviously our goal is to create a stable Syria, where civilians are not at risk.

And we both agree that at this point, President Assad has lost legitimacy and that we need to find a political transition that allows a multi-sect, democratic transition to take place so that Syria can be a place where all people can live in peace and harmony.

This will be difficult to accomplish. And yesterday, some of you saw that I asked my people to brief Congress about the fact that we now have some evidence that chemical weapons have been used on the populations in Syria. Now, these are preliminary assessments; they’re based on our intelligence gathering. We have varying degrees of confidence about the actual use, but there are a range of questions around how, when, where these weapons may have been used.

So we’re going to be pursuing a very vigorous investigation ourselves, and we’re going to be consulting with our partners in the region as well as the international community and the United Nations to make sure that we are investigating this as effectively and as quickly as we can.

But I meant what I’d said, and I will repeat that it’s, obviously, horrific as it is when mortars are being fired on civilians and people are being indiscriminately killed. To use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations crosses another line with respect to international norms and international law. And that is going to be a game changer.

We have to act prudently. We have to make these assessments deliberately. But I think all of us, not just in the United States but around the world, recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations.

So this is going to be something that we’ll be paying a lot of attention to — trying to confirm, and mobilize the international community around those issues.

But in everything that we do, we very much appreciate the kinds of support, advice, counsel, and partnership that we have with His Majesty and the people of Jordan. And we look forward to a fruitful consultation this afternoon.”

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