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Jordan set to enter Eurasia markets with Russia’s support

By JT - Feb 15,2018 - Last updated at Feb 15,2018

His Majesty King Abdullah holds talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday held a summit meeting that focused on Jordanian-Russian strategic partnership relations, as well as the current regional and international developments.

During a one-on-one meeting held at the Kremlin, followed by expanded talks, both leaders highlighted the importance of sustaining consultation and coordination between the two countries on various issues of mutual interest, in addition to further developing cooperation at the economic, military and security levels, according to a Royal Court statement.

In joint remarks to the press, His Majesty affirmed the deep ties that Jordan and Russia share, noting that “this is an auspicious year”, marking the 55th anniversary of establishing ties, just as last year was equally important.

 The King cited his meeting with President Putin in 2017 and “the leadership that you showed, as well as the joint cooperation between our two countries on bringing better days to Syria”.

His Majesty said President Putin’s directives last year allowed for “much stronger Jordanian-Russian coordination, and we have been able to make good political grounds in southern Syria, and this is due to your guidance and your vision of trying to solve the issues there as quickly as possible”.

Highlighting the close coordination between the two countries, the King said he expects this year will mark further advancement in cooperation.

His Majesty also praised Russia’s role in the peace process and President Putin’s work to reach a solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis that would “bring more hope to our region”.

For his part, President Putin welcomed the King and expressed Russia’s keenness on bolstering cooperation with Jordan.

“We have met one year ago sharp in Moscow. Both we and our colleagues are in constant contact with one another. Certainly, personal meetings are always very important,” he said.

 “In the course of our meeting, we are going to talk about our bilateral agenda, as well as about the situation in the region, but from the outset, let me tell you that this year we are celebrating the 55th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic ties between our countries,” President Putin added.

“We are going to further strengthen our mutual trust and cooperation,” he said.

The expanded talks — attended by HRH Prince Ghazi, the King’s special adviser for religious and cultural affairs and the personal envoy of His Majesty — tackled opportunities to develop cooperation between Amman and Moscow in trade, fields and to increase Jordanian agricultural exports to the Russian market through facilitating procedures. 

During the discussions, which continued over a lunch banquet, both leaders reviewed means to enhance cooperation between the two countries in several vital sectors, where they stressed the importance of holding meetings of the joint Jordanian-Russian committee before the yearend. 

They also discussed the possibility of benefiting from Aqaba Port as a regional gateway for Russian industries to enter several markets, especially in Africa, and went over bilateral cooperation in the energy sector.

The talks also covered the memorandum of understanding between Jordan and the Eurasian Economic Union — which comprises Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kirghizstan — that would facilitate the entry of Jordanian goods to these markets.

On the Palestinian issue, His Majesty stressed the importance of reintensifying efforts to end the stalemate in the peace process and realise the just and comprehensive peace, based on the two-state solution, relevant international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, until the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 lines and with East Jerusalem as its capital. 

Deliberations also focused on the repercussions of the Syrian crisis and efforts aimed at reaching a political solution, where, in this regard, King Abdullah highlighted the importance of achieving progress in the political course to guarantee the stability of Syria and the entire region. 

King Abdullah expressed his gratitude for the role of Russia and President Putin in working with the Kingdom and the US to render success to the de-escalation zones in southern Syria.

His Majesty added that these zones constitute a “model” that can be applied to other regions in the war-torn country, to pave the way for a political solution in line with the Geneva understandings. 

Discussions also focused on Sochi meetings on Syria, which Russia has recently hosted to guarantee the success of Geneva talks.

Both leaders addressed various regional issues and crises, and endeavours to reaching political solutions to them, as well as efforts exerted in the war against terrorism within a holistic strategy. 

 

Interfaith, anti-extremism

 

During Russia’s one-day visit, King Abdullah met with Patriarch Kirill I of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow and the Grand Mufti of Russia Sheikh Rawi Ainuddin in the presence of HRH Prince Ghazi, the King’s special adviser for religious and cultural affairs and the personal envoy of His Majesty.

Speaking at the meeting with Patriarch Kirill, His Majesty thanked the patriarch for the warm welcome and for expressing views on mutual challenges. “This is a time for all of us to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to express what unites us in this world,” the King noted.

Commending “the strong moral position” of the Russian Orthodox Church at home and across the world, His Majesty said: “The belief that to love thy God and love thy neighbour is what binds us together,” according to the Royal Court. 

“Your influence in our part of the world, your voice in our part of the world is desperately needed in this time,” the King told Patriarch Kirill.

Noting the global efforts to fight the scourge of international terrorism, and Russia’s role in this regard, His Majesty said that another major challenge is strengthening “Christian communities in our region, in Palestine, and — more importantly I think — in Jerusalem”.

“Christian Orthodoxy has been part of our past. It is, today, our present; and it must, must be part of our future. And if that is not the case, then we will all pay the price,” the King asserted.

“We observe, and recognise, and commend the role that the Russian Orthodox Church has played in Syria, not only in reaching out to protect our Christian brethren there, but also, your support has gone to the weak and the disenfranchised… as we in Jordan have welcomed our Christian brethren who flee violence both in Syria and Iraq from these oppressive terrorist organisations,” His Majesty said.

The King stressed that Jordan’s role also entails making sure that “our Christian brethren” can go back to their homes in Syria and Iraq, “because those communities are ancient communities”.

His Majesty also highlighted Jordan’s efforts in launched the Amman Message to identify what is right about Islam and to reach out to other religions.

“One of the outcomes of that is — again, probably not understood in the international community — is that if Muslims in nations outside of our region are given equal rights as citizens as part of that nation, their loyalty is to that nation, not to the centres of Islam in our part of the world,” the King explained.

“To paraphrase an old saying, for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing; and we are all good men, and we have to speak in a louder voice of what unites us, what brings us together in this tremendous challenge that we have,” His Majesty said.

For his part, Patriarch Kirill said: “The Russian Orthodox Church attaches great importance to the dialogue that we’ve managed to foster with the leadership of Jordan, and in particular with Your Majesty.”

“I recall our conversation with you back in 2012… how you told me about the inter-religious interactions in Jordan. You told me about the peaceful coexistence of different religions. And certainly, I have had the joy to see that personally,” the Patriarch said.

“So, I would like to congratulate you, Your Majesty, on the policy that you are pursuing with regards to different religions, groups, Muslims, Orthodox Christians — everyone feels at home, feels that they are on an equal footing and that equal opportunities are open before them,” he added.

 “I’d like to thank you for maintaining a high level of inter-religious dialogue and cooperation in Jordan,” Patriarch Kirill said.

“When you come to Jordan, you do not feel in any way that you represent a religious minority in this country… all religious groups treat each other with respect. And, certainly, you are to be credited for that to a large extent,” he noted.

“But it is also something that we should credit to your late father, King Hussein,” the Patriarch said, recalling a meeting he had with King Hussein.

“And even back then, we learned from King Hussein how warm the relations were between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in Jordan back then. And you have not just managed to preserve this wonderful tradition, you have also helped to develop it amid the challenges and threats of today,” he added.

Patriarch Kirill also noted that “the Russian Orthodox Church attaches great importance to inter-religious as well as to inter-ethnic dialogue”, stressing the importance of working together “at the international as well as inter-religious bases in order to foster one single front to fight terrorism”.

Also on Thursday, His Majesty visited Moscow Cathedral Mosque where he met with the Grand Mufti of Russia Sheikh Rawi Ainuddin.

During the meeting, they reviewed challenges associated with terrorism and its impact on the image of true Islam, with King Abdullah stressing the importance of the role of mosques in defending the Islamic faith, which calls for love and peace, and renounces hatred and extremism.  

King Abdullah said that Jordan has a duty to defend the true image of Islam, and pointed out the initiatives launched by Jordan to enhance communication and understanding between followers of religions.

At the meeting attended by a number of Islamic scholars in Russia, His Majesty also underlined the pivotal role of Islamic scholars in spreading the values ​​of tolerance and moderation among societies. 

His Majesty stressed that voice of moderation of Russia’s Muslims is very important for Muslims and their causes. 

For his part the grand mufti expressed his appreciation of King Abdullah’s efforts to highlight the true image of Islam in all international forums. 

He added that King Abdullah’s visit is considered historic since His Majesty is the descendant of the Prophet Mohammad. 

The mufti emphasised the importance of 2004 “Amman Message” that has shown the true image of a tolerant and moderate Islam.

He underlined the significance of Jordan’s efforts to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East and His Majesty’s continuous efforts to work out a just and permanent peace that leads to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

 

The grand mufti also praised the historic role of His Majesty as the custodian of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

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