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Valley Prepares for Another Presidential Visit; Obama, King Abdullah II of Jordan Arrive Friday

A view of the Sunnylands gardens in Rancho Mirage.
A view of the Sunnylands gardens in Rancho Mirage.

President Barack Obama and King Abdullah II of Jordan will be flying across the country and hold a summit meeting over dinner at Sunnylands Estate in Rancho Mirage Friday even though both men have been in Washington, D.C., this week.

For the president, whose wife and daughters will be away on their own travels this Presidents' Day weekend, California's appeal may have everything to do with the prospect of good-weather golf, the New York Times reported.

With the president appearing to have no other business in Southern California, questions about the West Coast summit arose at the White House Wednesday. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama Friday would travel first to Fresno and meet with farmers to discuss California's drought before flying into Palm Springs.

Administration officials told The New York Times that after seeing off the king, Obama plans to stay on for two days at Sunnylands to play a few rounds of golf at the estate's recently refurbished nine-hole course, which has been played by presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to the elder George Bush.

Jordanian officials told the newspaper that the only reason Abdullah is going to the West Coast is to meet with  Obama. Abdullah saw Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Washington, meeting him at his residence for breakfast Wednesday.

Biden and Abdullah discussed "how best to address the growing threat of violent extremism fueled by the Syrian conflict," according to a White House statement. The same issues are expected to be on the Obama-Abdullah agenda.

"Jordan is an invaluable ally and close friend of the United States," said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan. "... Sunnylands will again offer a private location and less formal setting that will allow the president to have a wide-ranging discussion with his majesty, King Abdullah II."

Sunnylands, which was built in the mid-1960s by the late Walter and Leonore Annenberg, has hosted presidents, foreign heads of state, Supreme Court justices and celebrities. Last June, Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for two days at the estate.

In preparation for the summit, the estate was closed to the public Monday. Tours will resume Tuesday.

In connection with the summit, the following roads will be closed from noon Friday until 5 p.m. Monday:

  • Bob Hope Drive, both directions from Gerald Ford Drive to Frank Sinatra Drive. Motorists traveling south on Bob Hope will be detoured east or west on Gerald Ford; those traveling north on Bob Hope will be detoured east on Frank Sinatra.
  • Frank Sinatra Drive, both directions. Residents, guests and service providers of Desert Island Country Club will be allowed through at Von Dehn Road. Identification will be required. Westbound motorists will be detoured south on Bob Hope.

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