Gov. Jerry Brown made an unannounced trip to the Coachella Valley this morning, spending about one hour with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Brown told The Desert Sun that the meeting focused on the drought, the efficient use of water and the development of renewable energy — issues that are pressing for both the state of California and the country of Jordan.
Brown, who came to the desert at the White House’s request, then headed to Fresno where he will greet President Obama, who is stopping there before heading to Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage.
“Jordan is a country very friendly to the United States, and has some of the same drought issues that California has,” Brown told The Desert Sun in a phone interview.
“They’re very interested in renewable energy. We talked about internet developments in Jordan and how important it is in to the region.”
Jordan, a country of about 6.5 million people, is a developing country that is notoriously poor in water, energy and other natural resources. While most homes have access to clean water, experts say the pipes only have water in them about once every couple of weeks.
The problem has been further exasperated by a massive influx of refugees from Syria, many of whom are living in residents’ homes instead of refugee camps.
Brown said he met Abdullah when the then-prince visited Oakland, where Brown served as mayor.
As governor, Brown has stressed the importance of developing California’s relationships with international leaders. On Friday, he said there was an opportunity to build such a bridge with Jordan.
Brown this afternoon will turn his attention to the ongoing drought, which he declared a statewide emergency.
“We’re in a very serious drought. Maybe the most serious since California became a state,” Brown told The Desert Sun. “There are things the president can do to provide some disaster relief.”
Congress is also being asked to tackle legislation championed by California’s two senators, to help provide relief.
Brown expressed confidence that Republicans and Democrats could find a common ground to tackle the issue, pointing out that “Mother Nature is not a member of either political party.”
“Increasingly, human kind and Californians are going to have to deal with changes in the natural systems – the water, the temperature, the cloud cover and the rain or lack thereof,” Brown said. “We are on a real collision course with nature. We have to make some real fundamental changes.”
After the event in Fresno, Obama will head to the Coachella Valley. This evening, he will head to Sunnylands to have dinner with Abdullah, who landed at Palm Springs International on Thursday.
It is not known how long Abdullah will stay in the Coachella Valley. His desert schedule has not been publicized.
Road closures announced by officials in Rancho Mirage and in Palm Springs indicate Obama will stay here until Monday.