Hagel discusses Syria and U.S. commitments during Jordan visit

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Jordan during his first trip to the Middle East to discuss common interests about matters in Syria and the U.S. commitment to help.

Hagel met with Jordan's Lt. Gen. Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein and Gen. Mashal al-Zaben, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Jordanian armed forces on Tuesday. Hagel will be visiting nations that share a common interest in the region, and those affected by the crisis in Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

Hagel said the U.S. and Jordan share one of the most important relationships in the region and affirmed the U.S. commitment to work closely with them on issues of alleged chemical threats from Syria and matters of the influx of Syrian refugees, of which the country now has 500,000 due to a decision to keep borders open.

Hagel's decision to send an additional military team to Jordan to help assist troops stationed in Jordan a year ago and existing efforts to prepare Jordan for a variety of potential scenarios in consideration of the crisis in Syria were discussed during the Jordan meeting. Prince Faisal and Zaben agreed to continue to work closely with the U.S. to support one another on mutual interests.

The U.S. has provided $409 million to help those affected by violence in Syria, including $1.2 million given to Jordanian armed forced for water, medical supplies, food and power generators to help safely transport Syrian refugees. The DoD has provided over $70 million to Jordan in efforts to help keep borders safe from the smuggling of chemical weapons.