Jordan king to hold Syria talks in Russia on Wednesday

6th April 2014, Comments 0 comments

Jordan's King Abdullah II is to travel to Moscow on Wednesday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Syrian conflict, after visits to the Vatican and Austria, the palace said.

The king will stop Monday in the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis, who is to visit Jordan as part of a Holy Land tour in May, before heading to Austria on Tuesday.

He will then travel to Moscow for talks with Putin on the devastating three-year war in Syria, an ally of Russia, the palace said in a statement.

"The talks will focus on bilateral cooperation and Middle East developments, particularly the Syrian crisis," it said.

The conflict has killed more than 150,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while half the population is estimated to have fled their homes.

Jordan is hosting more than 500,000 Syrian refugees, straining its infrastructure and finances.

King Abdullah has said the conflict in neighbouring Syria and the rise of extremism there are his country's primary concerns.

More than 100,000 refugees in Jordan live in cramped conditions in the Zaatari desert camp in the north of the country.

Since opening two years ago, Zaatari near the border with Syria has been the scene of several protests, mainly over poor living conditions.

On Saturday, a refugee was killed and dozens of people, mostly Jordanian policemen, were injured when rioting broke out in the camp.

During a May 24-26 tour of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, the pope is expected to meet with Syrian and Palestinian refugees, according to the Vatican.

© 2014 AFP

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