Barack Obama visits ancient ruins of Petra at the end of his Middle East tour
President Barack Obama is ending his Middle East tour with a trip to the famous ruins of the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.
The diplomatic part of his visit ended on Friday when he met King Abdullah and pledged an additional $200 million to help Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Correspondents say Barack Obama’s four-day visit has yielded mixed results.
The US president brokered an Israeli rapprochement with Turkey but there was little progress on the Palestinian issue.
Barack Obama’s Marine One helicopter touched down near Petra after an hour-long flight from the Jordanian capital, Amman.
The site of the ancient city, which is carved into rose-red stone, dates back 2,000 years and is Jordan’s top tourist attraction, drawing more than half a million visitors each year.
Most of Barack Obama’s time in the Middle East was spent in Israel where he held several meetings with PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
A highlight of the visit came when Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey for “any errors that could have led to loss of life” during the 2010 commando raid on an aid flotilla that tried to breach the Gaza blockade.
Benjamin Netanyahu also agreed to compensate the families of the nine Turkish activists who were killed.
Turkey’s PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said he had accepted the apology, “in the name of the Turkish people”.
Barack Obama also briefly visited Ramallah in the West Bank to meet Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.
The US president urged Palestinians to drop their demands for a freeze in Israeli settlement-building as a precondition for peace talks.
However, a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian leader had told Barack Obama the precondition remained in place.
Speaking to an audience of young Israelis in Jerusalem, Barack Obama praised Jewish nationhood before turning the argument around by stressing the need for Palestinians to share these same values of self-determination and justice.
“It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own living their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day,” Barack Obama said.
President Barack Obama is due to return to Washington later on Saturday.
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