Nightly News   |  March 23, 2013

Obama wraps up Mideast visit

President Obama wrapped up his four-day visit to the Middle East after helping Israel and Turkey end a three-year diplomatic dispute. That, in turn, will help the region deal with the civil war in Syria. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> president obama wrapped up his four-day visit to the middle east today, after helping israel and turkey end a three-year diplomatic dispute. that, in turn, will help the region deal with the civil war in syria . before he left today, the president turned his attention to the past, visiting jordan 's ancient city of petra, one of the world's most celebrated archaeological sites . with the president on his way home, secretary of state john kerry remained in the region. we get more tonight from nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell .

>> reporter: john kerry , with jordan 's king abdullah at his side, stayed behind, wasting no time trying to deliver on the president's promise of a fresh start for middle east diplomacy. s shuttling from the king to an afternoon meeting in amman with palestinian president mahmoud abbas , then a quick trip to jerusalem for dinner with israel 's prime minister benjamin netanyahu . before returning to amman . kerry is also dealing with an even more urgent crisis for both israel and jordan . the war next door in syria . u.s. and israeli intelligence say the assad regime is poised to use chemical weapons .

>> once you let that situation spin out of control, it's very hard to -- to stop, and can have enormous spillover effects across the region.

>> reporter: the cia is already training selected rebel groups to guard against a takeover by more radical elements once assad falls. the regime's weakness was demonstrated again thursday, by a suicide bombing at a damascus mosque. killing a prominent assad supporter. today, activists said rebels seized a key air base in the south, along the jordanian border where rebel forces, including some islamic ill militants, are almost face-to-face with israeli border troops. president assad struggling to refute reports that he is afraid to come out of hiding emerged briefly this week for an elaborately staged government photo-op. even posing with his wife. all this as pressure mounts for the u.s. to get involved militarily to stop the slaughter.

>> i think we'll end up providing lethal assistance. and i wouldn't be surprised at some point -- first of all, it's a red line is crossed with chemical weapons , that could involve military activity.

>> reporter: tonight u.s. officials said kerry told both sides that peace is not only possible, but necessary. even as the u.n. launched an investigation into reports that chemical weapons were used in syria last week. andrea mitchell , nbc news, amman .