U.S. plans to boost aid to Jordan to $1 billion per year

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits in a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah at the Four Seasons Hotel in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington February 3, 2015. REUTERS/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday announced plans to increase annual aid to Jordan to $1 billion from $660 million to help it pay for the cost of housing refugees from Iraq and Syria and of fighting Islamic State militants.

An agreement on the aid, which is subject to the approval of the U.S. Congress, was signed before the wide release of a video that appeared to show Islamic State militants burning a captured Jordanian pilot alive.

Jordan is one of a handful of Arab states that have taken part in a U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State group, which last year seized swaths of Iraq and Syria. The pilot, Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, was captured in December after his F-16 crashed in territory controlled by the militants in Syria.

In a brief statement, the U.S. State Department said it planned to provide $1 billion per year to Jordan for each of the U.S. fiscal years for 2015, 2016 and 2017. The U.S. fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

“The United States recognizes Jordan’s increased immediate needs resulting from regional unrest, the efforts Jordan is undertaking at the forefront of the fight against ISIL and other extremist ideology and terrorism, the influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq, the disruption of foreign energy supplies, and other unprecedented strains,” the State Department said.

The Islamic State group is also know as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“The increase for the period of FY 2015 to FY 2017 is designed to address Jordan’s short-term, extraordinary needs, including those related to regional instability and rising energy costs,” the State Department added.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli