First draft: No driving with the king this time

April 21, 2009

The last time Barack Obama saw Jordan’s King Abudullah, the monarch literally gave him a PORTUGAL/ride to the airport in Amman. That was before Obama was elected president, and the king shouldn’t expect a return of the favor during his visit to Washington today.

But Abdullah — the first Arab leader to hold face-to-face talks in the White House since Obama took office – has been invited to Obama’s personal dining room for a one-on-one meeting with the American president before a more formal gathering with aides in the Oval Office.

Abdullah is expected to lobby on behalf of Arab states for a stronger U.S. role in Middle East peacemaking, according to Jordanian palace officials.

On the economic front, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner heads to Capitol Hill this morning where he is likely to be grilled over his handling of the financial bailout program and his plans to purge problem assets from bank balance sheets.

His testimony comes after the government’s bailout watchdog said the U.S. Treasury’s plan to purge the toxic assets is vulnerable to fraud and abuse and needs tough rules against conflict of interest.

Geithner’s appearance on Capitol Hill also comes after a dismal day on Wall Street on Monday. Stock futures point to a lower opening on Tuesday too on concerns about the state of corporate profits after a slew of companies reported dour first quarter financial results.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Hugo Correia (Abdullah arriving at the palace in Lisbon last month)

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