King Abdullah of Jordan will turn down an invitation to speak at a Republican congressional retreat in Baltimore Wednesday night. While the king met with Vice President Joe Biden and a number of other lawmakers this week, he decided to avoid speaking to House and Senate Republicans, Politico reported.
President Barack Obama was unable to meet with Abdullah during his visit due to “scheduling conflicts, including the State of the Union address,” a White House official told Politico. Abdullah was never confirmed for the retreat, and he may have wanted to avoid the appearance of meeting with Republicans but not the United States president.
While in the U.S. this week, the Jordanian king did meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, as well as members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
McConnell told reporters Tuesday that those meetings focused on ways the U.S. can work with Jordan, which has been an important ally in U.S. efforts to combat the Islamic State militant group.
“Some of us had a chance to meet with King Abdullah earlier today, and I think there’s a good deal of confusion about whether there is a plan to get rid of ISIL [the Islamic State group] and whether or not the United States is going to step up and play the kind of leadership role that is necessary,” McConnell said Tuesday, according to Politico.
Republicans have heavily criticized Obama’s strategy for fighting the Islamic State group over the past several months, as a number of high profile terror attacks have drawn attention to global terrorism. They have said the U.S. needs to get more involved and take more action against the terrorist organization. Meanwhile, Democrats have largely opposed putting American troops on the ground in Iraq or Syria and have instead emphasized the need for other countries, particularly those in the Middle East, to help the U.S. in its efforts.
Now that Abdullah will not address House and Senate Republicans Wednesday night, author Jon Meacham is expected to replace him as the keynote speaker.