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Spotlight: U.S. steps up aid to Jordan, new video shows killing of Jordanian hostage by IS

By Lu Jiafei, Zhou Erjie (Xinhua)    08:50, February 04, 2015

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 -- A video purporting to show the execution of a Jordanian pilot hostage was released on Tuesday by the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) shortly after the United States and Jordan signed a memorandum which would increase the U.S. annual assistance to Jordan from 660 million to 1 billion U.S. dollars.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on Tuesday signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU), in which the U.S. would increase its assistance to Jordan from 660 million dollars to 1 billion dollars per year for the years 2015-2017.

The U.S. recognizes the efforts Jordan is undertaking at the forefront of the fight against IS and the country's other needs resulting from regional unrest, the State Department said in a statement.

"Jordan is facing multiple dangers and challenges in the form of extremist threats and the burden particularly of hosting more than 800,000 refugees in a country whose population is less than 7 million," said Kerry at a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart. "Increased need means a requirement for increased help, and that is why the Memorandum of Understanding that we are signing today goes well beyond business as usual."

Shortly after the signing of the memorandum, the extremist group IS now controlling parts of Syria and Iraq released a new video via its official media outlet which purportedly showed the Jordanian pilot being burned to death by the IS militants.

Calling it another sign of the "barbarity" of the militant group, U.S. President Barack Obama, at that time meeting with beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act at the White House, pledged to crush the IS.

"It, I think, will redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of a global coalition to make sure that they are degraded and ultimately defeated," said Obama, adding that he believed that IS was operating on a "bankrupt" ideology, whatever it was.

During his State of Union speech last month, Obama urged Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the use of force against IS, one of the few fields he and a Republican-controlled Congress would likely to cooperate on.

In a statement issued by the State Department, Kerry said U.S. support for the Arab coalition against IS would not end till IS could no longer threaten the region.

"Today and hereafter, particularly in this hour of grief, our support for Jordan and the Jordanian people remains strong and steadfast," said the statement.

Meanwhile, U.S. and partner-nation military forces continued to conduct 14 airstrikes against IS militants in Syria and Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department said Tuesday.

Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian military pilot, was captured after his plane crashed last December. Since then, he has become a main pawn for IS. The Jordanian government had said it was ready to conduct a prisoner swap with IS in exchange for the safe release of Kasasbeh and another Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. But the deadline for the swap expired on Jan. 29 as Jordan demanded proof from the IS militants that Kassasbeh was still alive.

The video of Kasasbeh's death came just days after the IS militants beheaded the Japanese journalist. The Jordanian government said it has confirmed the man burned to death was Kasasbeh, and Jordanian TV reported that the killing took place on Jan. 3, far earlier than the deadline of the prisoner swap proposed by IS.

"The armed forces mourn the martyred hero and emphasize that his blood will not be wasted," said a Jordanian military statement, pledging a revenge "in the same level of the Jordanian tragedy."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yuan Can,Yao Chun)

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