AMMAN: European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton toured a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan Monday and held talks with King Abdullah II on the first leg of a five-day Middle East tour, officials said.
During their talks the Jordanian monarch reiterated his call for a “political solution to the Syrian conflict that safeguards that country’s unity,” the palace said in a statement.
Ashton, who also toured the Zaatari camp in northern Jordan, expressed the EU’s “appreciation” for the assistance Jordan is providing to Syrian refugees who have fled the deadly violence that has wracked their country for 19 months.
State-run news agency Petra said Ashton met camp residents, including children, and toured schools and a French field hospital, urging help for Syrian refugees in Jordan and other host nations.
Jordan says more than 200,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into its territory since the conflict erupted in March last year, with some 36,000 living in the U.N.-run Zaatari camp.
The EU has said that Ashton will go on to Beirut Tuesday, then Wednesday she travels to Jerusalem where she is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before holding talks with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad.
She will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday.
In Amman she and the king also discussed efforts to revive deadlocked Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, the palace statement said.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 23, 2012, on page 8.