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Local Syrian community watching Sunnylands meeting closely

By Greg Lee, KESQ News Channel 3 & CBS Local 2 Reporter, glee@kesq.com
Published On: Feb 10 2014 02:00:00 AM CST

THE PRESIDENT WILL MEET WITH THE KING OF JORDAN AT SUNNLYANDS AT THE END OF THE WEEK. THE WHITE HOUSE HAS SAID ONE OF THE AGENDA ITEMS FOR THIS MEETING IS PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE ONGOING WAR IN SYRIA.
     JORDAN SHARES A BORDER WITH SYRIA AND HAS BECOME HOME FOR THOUSANDS OF SYRIAN REFUGEES. SOMETHING SYRIAN AMERICANS ARE WATCHING CLOSELY.

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

President Obama is set to meet with the King of Jordan Friday at the Sunnylands Estate in Rancho Mirage. One of the major talking points for the meeting will address the war in Syria and its impact on both the United States and Jordan. The U.S. has invested more than a billion dollars in the war, while hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring Jordan. Syrian-Americans are watching the meeting closely in hopes that these talks can help put an end the turmoil in their country.  "It's getting worse and worse and worse and people continue to die and the whole world is watching," said Ahmad Hamden, who lives in Palm Desert. 

The U.S. continues to support opposition forces, or rebels, who first wanted democratic and economic reform in the country's existing government structure. Hamden wants America to do more.   "Obama should have done more, you know, the United States, they are the leaders," said Hamden.  "They should act like they are the leaders."

The U.S. has pledges nearly $1.7 billion to the country over the three-year course of the war that's left more than 100,000 dead according to the United Nations. 

Lawrence Salameh keeps a container of dirt from his home in Syria, for fear he may never be able to visit again.  He wants the U.S. to step back from its role in the war.  "Democracy is not one-size fits all," said Salameh.  "What works in the United States, does not work for Syria."

Jordan's King Abdullah II called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, the first call of its kind from an Arab leader.  Salameh disagrees. "I do believe right now, he's the only savior of the country, but he needs help," said Salameh about Assad.  

He believes Assad needs the help of the U.S.  While men don't agree on how our country should direct its aid, they both agree, the thousands of refugees in neighboring Jordan are being mistreated. "We had a lot of people who died in the camp in Jordan from cold from hunger, from poisoned food," said Hamden. 

While the meeting at Sunnylands may not end the Syrian war, these Syrian-Americans say they hope it adds to the urgency of saving their war-torn country. "To fix a society that was destroyed by hatred is going to take centuries," said Salameh.