Jordan king urges 'lasting' Gaza ceasefire in talks with Biden

Jordan's King Abdullah II appealed for a full ceasefire to end the Gaza war after talks with Joe Biden, striking a discordant note with the U.S. president who is seeking a shorter six-week pause to give Israel time to defeat Hamas.

Speaking at the White House, the two leaders both warned however against any indiscriminate Israeli ground incursion into Gaza's southern city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are trapped.

"We cannot afford an Israeli attack on Rafah. It is certain to produce another humanitarian catastrophe," said the Jordanian monarch, taking the lectern after Biden had spoken first.

"We cannot stand by and let this continue. We need a lasting ceasefire now — this war must end," added Abdullah, who has repeatedly pushed for a full truce to end the conflict that started when Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.

The United States has angered some Middle East allies by consistently refusing to call for a full ceasefire, with Washington saying that it backs Israel's drive to defeat Hamas, and calling for shorter pauses with hostage deals instead.

But Biden, who is seeking reelection in November, has started to take a harder line with Israel on civilian casualties, saying last week that Israel's offensive was "over the top."

"The United States is working on a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, which would bring in mediate and sustained period of calm to Gaza for at least six weeks," Biden said, adding that key elements were in place but "gaps" remained.

The warring parties could then "take the time to build something more enduring."

Biden also said civilians sheltering in Rafah, on the Egyptian border, "need to be protected" as Israel considers a ground incursion.

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