US set to boost aid to Jordan despite Trump threats of cuts

In this Feb. 12, 2018, photo, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaks in Cairo, Egypt. Despite repeated threats to punish countries that don’t agree with U.S. Mideast policy, the Trump administration is set to boost aid to Jordan by more than a billion dollars over the next five years. Tillerson and Jordan’s foreign minister will sign the aid agreement in Amman on Wednesday, according to the officials who were not authorized to preview the announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity. (Khaled Elfiqi/Pool photo via AP)

Khaled Elfiqi

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Despite repeated threats to punish countries that don't agree with U.S. policy in the Middle East, the Trump administration is set to boost aid to Jordan by more than $1 billion over the next five years.

President Donald Trump has vowed to cut aid to nations that oppose the U.S., yet rhetoric appears to have hit reality with Jordan, a critical American partner in the volatile Middle East that has opposed the administration's Mideast approach.

Jordan voted in December to condemn the U.S. for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and has criticized the U.S. for withholding millions in funding for Palestinian refugees, many of whom live in Jordan.

Nonetheless, U.S. officials say the administration has decided to give Jordan $1.275 billion annually until 2022. That's $275 million more per year than the current level.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Jordan's foreign minister will sign the aid agreement in Amman on Wednesday, according to officials, who were not authorized to preview the announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The expected announcement appears to represent a victory of sorts for Tillerson and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, both of whom have been lobbying the administration to continue such assistance on national security grounds. But Trump and his U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, have been pressing for aid cuts.

Jordan, a longtime partner of the U.S and one of only two Arab nations to have full diplomatic relations with Israel, is especially critical as an American ally, given its large Palestinian population along with the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria.

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