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Safadi says reopening Syria border crossings needs more work

By JT - Oct 10,2018 - Last updated at Oct 10,2018

AMMAN — Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi on Tuesday held talks with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil, focusing on ways to enhance bilateral cooperation, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

They also discussed regional developments, especially those related to the Palestinian cause and efforts to provide the necessary support to the UNRWA, and also the Syrian crisis and the Syrian refugees’ issue, in addition to other regional and international issues of common interest.

During their meeting at the Foreign Ministry, the two ministers stressed the two countries’ intention to take effective steps that would contribute to the expansion of economic and tourism cooperation and increase trade exchange.

In a joint press statement, Safadi said the meeting provided an opportunity to discuss several bilateral and regional issues, and showed the strength of the relations that Jordan and Lebanon are keen to open wider horizons for.

Safadi also said that he discussed with his Lebanese counterpart means of holding a meeting for the Jordan-Lebanon Joint High Committee to agree on the mechanisms of expanding cooperation and improving relations to the advanced levels envisioned by the two countries.

Safadi added that he discussed with Bassil the Palestinian cause, reiterating that achieving comprehensive peace come through ending the occupation and resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of a two-state solution that guarantee the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the lines of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Safadi said that the international conference on UNRWA that Jordan has recently co-hosted, along with Sweden, Japan, Germany, EU and Turkey upon Lebanon’s request, has reemphasised the international community’s commitment towards the Palestinian refugees when donor countries have pledged $122 million in additional assistance to UNRWA, which reduced the agency’s budget deficit by 60 million.

The minister added that the “success” achieved this year represented the first step in efforts seeking to ensure sustainable financing for UNRWA so that it can continue its humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees, including 500,000 students.

Safadi stressed the link between UNRWA and the Palestinian refugee dilemma which, he noted, must be resolved within the UN Resolution 194 and the Arab Peace Initiative that guarantee the right of return to Palestinian refugees.

The minister also called for intensified efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis that can safeguard Syria’s territorial unity and restore Damascus’ pivotal regional role.

Safadi also said that Jordan hosts 1.3 million Syrian refugees, of whom only 10 per cent live in refugee camps, adding that granting work permits to around 100, 000 of them would encourage voluntary return of refugees to their country.  

Noting that Jordan wants to reopen borders, Safadi said that there are joint committees examining the technicalities related to the reopening of the border crossings between Jordan and Syria, saying that crossings will be reopened when such work is completed.  

Safadi praised Jordanian-Lebanese ties and the level of cooperation between the two countries. 

For his part, Bassil said that his visit to the Kingdom was mainly to deliver an invitation to His Majesty King Abdullah from Lebanese President Michel Aoun to attend the Arab economic summit which will be held in Beirut in early 2019. 

The Lebanese minister said that he reviewed with Safadi means of promoting Jordanian-Lebanese relations, particularly in economic and commercial fields.

Bassil voiced hope that the Jaber/Nassib crossing between Jordan and Syria would be opened soon.

The Lebanese minister said that Jordan and Lebanon see eye-to-eye on the need to arrive at a political solution to the current crisis in Syria, affirming the need for such a solution to be acceptable to the Syrians.

Jordan and Lebanon are keen to achieve peace and stability on their borders with Syria, Bassil said, adding that the return of “displaced” Syrians to their country can be achieved with the return of security and stability.

Bassil also affirmed the need for the international community to support UNRWA and stressed the importance of enabling Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.

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