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Jordan, France to work together for solutions to regional crisis

Macron voices Paris’ commitment to supporting Jordan’s efforts, development

By JT - Dec 20,2017 - Last updated at Dec 20,2017

His Majesty King Abdullah is greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of their meeting in Paris on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday discussed with French President Emmanuel Macron regional developments, especially the US announcement to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

During an expanded meeting, at Élysée Palace, the two leaders stressed the importance of continuous coordination between Jordan and France on various issues and boosting cooperation in the economic, military and security fields, a Royal Court statement said.   

In joint remarks to the press after the talks, His Majesty expressed appreciation for President Macron’s constructive role in the Middle East, stressing Jordan’s keenness to work with France in pursuit of regional and global security and stability.

The King said President Macron, through his leading role in the region, is bringing hope and common sense in the face of the various challenges, while maintaining close coordination with Jordan.

The partnership between Jordan and France, His Majesty continued, is moving in a strong direction, and the two countries are proud of their advanced military and security relations.

The King also thanked France for supporting Jordan as it takes on economic challenges, noting that the two countries focus on cultural exchange as well.

His Majesty told the press that the discussions with President Macron focused on how to build a strong relationship between France and Jordan and how to deal with the latest pressing developments.

“Sir, you mentioned that the Palestinian cause remains the region’s most vital issue, and, as we are all aware, Jerusalem is key to resolving the challenges that we have ahead,” the King said.

“In this respect, obviously, the United States’ unilateral decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is against — from our point of view —international law; but we both agreed that there is no alternative to the two-state solution and that there is no solution without Jerusalem,” His Majesty affirmed.

“The issue of Jerusalem must be settled within the framework of a final status solution and a just peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, based on the two-state solution,” the King stressed.

 “This must allow Palestinians to establish their independent state, with East Jerusalem as the capital, living side by side with Israel,” His Majesty continued.

“Muslims’ and Christians’ rights to Jerusalem cannot be denied,” the King asserted.

Muslims and Christians have a shared history, and “this was clearly voiced by the Christian and Muslim leaders whom I met in Jordan two days ago, and also during my meeting earlier this morning with His Holiness Pope Francis,” His Majesty said.

“As the Custodian of Islamic and Christian holy sites in the city, Jordan is truly committed to its religious and historical responsibilities towards Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif,” the King affirmed.

“And at this point, we all need to make sure that we work together,” His Majesty added, praising the ideas put forth by President Macron in order to reach a permanent solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“We are ready to stand by the Palestinian people and President Abbas in support of their efforts with the international community to achieve peace,” the King noted.

His Majesty said talks with President Macron also covered the developments in Syria, where the fight against terrorist groups had been the priority, but now, after substantial progress on the ground, the next stage calls for further efforts to build on the Astana talks to reach a political solution that guarantees the stability, unity and future of Syria.

“On behalf of Jordan, we are definitely going to stand by your side. We look forward to a lot of initiatives coming from France to be able to push us in the right direction,” the King added, voicing hope that these discussions will help make 2018 a better year.

For his part, the French president stressed the “deep rooted” relations between the two countries.

He expressed his delight for receiving His Majesty in his second visit, which came after a recent phone call related to Trump’s decision on Jerusalem.

Macron said that he and the King discussed bilateral issues that had been on the list of priorities since last June, adding that he would visit Jordan next spring or summer.

The French president underlined the Jordanian-French military cooperation, stressing France’s keenness on supporting Jordan’s economic development.

The president said that he and the King discussed French companies’ investment in Jordan in fields like water and energy, while the two leaders thoroughly discussed regional issues, especially the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the situation in Syria.

On Jerusalem, Macron said the issue is of paramount importance for both sides, dictating cooperation between France and coordination with Jordan, the custodian of the holy places in the city.

He said that Jordan and France will work as partners for preserving the status quo of the holy places in Jerusalem and that both sides had agreed it was impossible to separate Jerusalem from the envisioned comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Macron added that he discussed with the King fighting Daesh in Syria.

He said that the terrorist group was approaching its end; however, terrorism is still there and the fight must continue in the region and Europe. 

The president stressed his country’s support for Jordan, which hosts French troops as a major partner in the fight against terror.

King Abdullah and President Macron also discussed peace efforts related to the Syrian crisis during the first quarter of next year.

In response to a question on the diplomatic course, His Majesty is planning to pursue with President Macron on Jerusalem after meeting Christian church leaders from Jerusalem and Pope Francis, the King said: “Jerusalem, at the end of the day, is the eternal capital for Christians as well as Muslims.”

Any Israeli attempts to change facts on the ground in the holy city will have “a tremendous effect on the future of Muslims and Christians as we go forward”, His Majesty warned.

Noting that Arab Christians are the oldest Christian community in the world, the King affirmed that “Christianity, and Arab Christians in specific, have been part of our past; they are part of our present and they must be part of our future”.

His Majesty asserted the importance of protecting Christians’ and Muslims’ rights to Jerusalem.

Whatever the discussions ahead, and while the United States prepares to propose a peace plan, the King emphasised that Jerusalem “is a city that binds us all together, that brings all three monotheistic faiths together, and we can’t have any violations on the ground that jeopardise that issue”.

His Majesty added that the Christian leaders he met with this week “expressed their alarm at the American decision, which will affect their future, as well as ours”, noting that the question is “how do we save the [peace] process to be able to move forward in the proper direction, where Jerusalem is a beacon of hope, not a city that divides”.

The Jerusalem church leaders asked Jordan to plea on their behalf to the United Nations and international organisations, the King continued, “but, again, we have to keep in mind that the solution, at the end of the day, is how do we bring Palestinians and Israelis to the table
to achieve the two-state solution”, which, in turn, would be a step forward to resolving the issue of the eternal city.

This is the challenge ahead for the coming few months, His Majesty said.

In response to a question on fears that Israel would not abide by the two-state solution, and by East Jerusalem being the capital for the Palestinians, the King said Arab and Muslim countries, at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Extraordinary summit in Istanbul, gave the overriding message that “we have to give peace and hope a chance”.

“We’re in a process of waiting to hear what the [United States’] plan is and where that takes us, so we will have to hope and pray that, actually, over the next two months, our American colleagues will articulate the next phase of this challenge, and, hopefully, to be able to build on that,” His Majesty added.

 

Instead of jumping to conclusions, all parties should come together to be able to move forward towards peace, instead of frustration and suspicion, the King said.

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