King Abdullah and EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn on Monday discussed strategic partnership relations between Jordan and the EU and the latest regional developments.
The meeting, held at Al Husseiniya Palace, also focused on EU-Jordanian cooperation and opportunities to maximise the Kingdom’s benefits from the EU relaxed rules of origin for Jordanian exports to Europe, according to a Royal Court statement.
King Abdullah expressed his appreciation for the EU’s support to Jordan in several aspects.
Discussions also addressed developments in the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis, with The King highlighting the importance of intensifying efforts aimed at reaching a just and sustainable peace based on the two-state solution, which leads to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Talks also covered the financial challenges facing UNRWA, with King Abdullah calling for supporting the agency to enable it to provide its relief, educational and health services.
In this regard, the King praised the EU’s role in pushing forward the peace process and sustaining UNRWA’s mandate.
The King and Hahn also underlined the significance of reaching political solutions to Middle Eastern crises, especially the Syrian crisis and the need for the solution to guarantee the unity of its territories and people.
The meeting focused on the repercussions of the Syrian refugee crisis on the Jordanian economy and its limited resources, where the King and the EU official called for providing the proper conditions to guarantee the voluntary return of refugees to their homeland.
Hahn said that the EU considers Jordan a main partner, and that the union is keen on supporting the Kingdom in implementing its development and economic plans.
The European official also expressed the EU’s appreciation for the “big” contributions of Jordan in hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees.
Also on Monday, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz met with Hahn over the economic challenges facing the Kingdom and the repercussions of regional turmoil on Jordan, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
Discussions went over mega projects the Kingdom is planning to implement, mainly the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project, which Jordan counts on to have in place water desalination plants and for maintaining the level of water of the Dead Sea.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi also met with Hahn to discuss ways of enhancing economic, investment and development cooperation, in addition to recent regional developments including the efforts to break the deadlock in the peace process and supporting the UNRWA.
The two sides also discussed progress in efforts to a political solution to the Syrian crisis and the case of Syrian refugees, especially regarding the burdens Jordan is shouldering due to receiving 1.3 million Syrians and the need for adequate international support to sustain the services offered to refugees.
Safadi stressed that UNRWA is related to the fate of Palestinian refugees, which, he said, is one of the final-status issues to be resolved in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy and within the framework of a comprehensive solution to the conflict that guarantees all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, and especially their right to freedom and an independent state within the pre-1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Hahn praised the humanitarian role that Jordan plays towards the refugees and to ensure safety and stability in the area.
Also on Monday, King Abdullah’s meeting with US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin focused on economic cooperation between Amman and Washington and means to enhance it.
The King highlighted the importance of strategic partnership between the two countries, expressing his appreciation for the US support to the Kingdom, according to a second Royal Court statement.
For his part, Mnuchin commended the Jordanian role in supporting efforts aimed at realising security and stability in the region and Amman’s role in hosting Syrian refugees, noting that the US will continue assisting Jordan in various fields.
The meeting went over the economic challenges facing the Kingdom as a result of regional crises, as well as economic plans aimed at stimulating growth rates, providing jobs and enhancing the economy’s capability to deal with different challenges.
Talks also covered the big repercussions Jordan is bearing as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis and the increasing pressures it has imposed on service and infrastructure sectors.
Meanwhile, Razzaz’s met with Mnuchin and highlighted the importance of the free trade agreement between Jordan and the US in providing major opportunities for Jordanian exports in the textile sector, where the premier expressed hope to open wider scopes for Jordanian exports, Petra added.