US, Jordan Want 'Serious' Mideast Peace Talks

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Jordan's King Abdullah II met with President Obama at the White House to discuss recent efforts to push Israel and the Palestinians toward a serious peace deal.

Obama agreed to cooperate with Jordan, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, to go forward with negotiations between the two groups.

The king, who hosted three meetings this month between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, admitted the talks were in the early stages.

"We have to keep our fingers crossed," Abdullah told reporters after an Oval Office meeting with Obama, Tuesday.

The meetings are taking place under the auspices of the Quartet -- the U.S., the United Nations, European Union, and Russia. The Quartet hopes to broker a peace deal by the end of 2012.

Obama and Abdullah also discussed developments in Iraq and Iran, as well as the worsening crisis in Syria.

King Abdullah has called on Syrian President President Bashar al-Assad to step down over his government's deadly crackdown against its opponents. Opposition groups say more than 6,000 people have been killed since the protests began 10 months ago.

Abdullah was the first Arab leader to call for Assad to leave power, and Obama praised him for his "willingness to stand up."

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