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Jordan, New Zealand agree to expand bilateral ties, coordination

By JT - Nov 28,2016 - Last updated at Nov 28,2016

His Majesty King Abdullah meets with New Zealand’s Governor General Patsy Reddy in Wellington on Monday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday held talks with Governor General of New Zealand Patsy Reddy, which focused on boosting economic relations and increasing trade, in addition to regional developments, according to a Royal Court statement. 

The talks in the capital Wellington revolved around bilateral cooperation in the fields of alternative energy, agriculture, education, vocational and technical training, filmmaking and exchanging expertise in the field of civil defence. 

The King and Reddy highlighted the importance of exchanging visits between the private sectors of both countries to detect investment opportunities. 

His Majesty commended the level of coordination achieved between the two countries when they held temporary memberships in the UN Security Council regarding international and regional issues.

They discussed developments regarding the Syrian crisis and the international efforts to reach a political solution that brings an end to the conflict. In this regard, His Majesty highlighted the mounting burdens ensuing from regional crises on neighbouring countries, especially Jordan, which hosts a large number of refugees. 

Talks also focused on the dangers of terrorism on world peace and security and the need to combat it within a holistic strategy. They also urged a resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations to implement the internationally endorsed two-state solution. 

For her part, New Zealand's governor general commended Jordan's efforts to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East, voicing her country's interest to boost relations with Jordan. 

She commended Jordan's achievements, especially September's Lower House elections, held at a time of "extremely complicated regional issues", and for providing humanitarian and relief services to Syrian refugees. 

Reddy held a dinner banquet in honour of His Majesty and the accompanying delegation, during which the King stressed in his remarks the depth of bilateral relations and the interest to boost them in all fields. 

During the banquet, His Majesty thanked the New Zealanders for their hospitality, saying: “It is all the more appreciated as your country deals with the aftermath of the recent earthquakes. We truly admire the way your people confront these challenges.”

“Some of you may know that this year marks the centennial of the Great Arab Revolt — the wellspring of Arab self-determination. At this historic moment, our people found a strategic partnership in the soldiers who came from almost half around the world. My friends, our partnership has never been more important than it is today,” the King said. 

The King said that Jordan and New Zealand are stable countries that thrive as part of a global system “held together by cooperation, moderation, and tolerance”.

He added, “Yet as I speak, our world faces a virulent, hostile attack, from extremists who seek to destroy the values that bind our common humanity. Daesh, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, Abu Sayyaf: whatever their name, that threat is the same. These outlaws... we call them the khawarij, outlaws of Islam... seek to create a fractured world of global struggle, with Muslims and non-Muslims on opposite sides, mistrusting and fearing each other.”

The Monarch described the challenge as “the challenge of our lifetime”, noting that the threat is as serious as any in history and that it is global, and it is for the long term.

“The fact is — for peace, for security, for prosperity — every region counts. We cannot ignore events in Africa or southeast Europe or elsewhere because they might seem distant. Only a collective, comprehensive effort will win,” the King said, adding that this can be seen in the global refugee crisis.

Since 2011, some 2.5 million Syrian refugees have crossed into Jordan and almost half of them stayed in the country, King Abdullah said, adding “these are only the latest of millions of refugees who have sought sanctuary in our country over the past decades”.

The challenge is shared and opportunities are also shared, which require all the concerned parties to work together in order to grasp them, not only through security and law enforcement but also “effective diplomatic solutions, peacekeeping, inclusive development and more”, the King said. 

“In the past few years, I’ve been shocked by the number of global opinion-makers who still don’t understand Islam — the faith of almost 2 billion peaceful, productive men and women around the world,” His Majesty said, calling for putting away false perceptions.

He added, “Muslims, like Christians and Jews and others, are bound by the deepest Commandments of all: the Love of God and the Love of our Neighbour. Our religion teaches us that all humanity is equal in dignity. These are the values I teach my children — the same values that I was taught, and the same values honoured by Muslims home in Jordan and here in New Zealand and around the world.”

The King said that New Zealanders’ values and sacrifices resound worldwide and have shown the meaning of global good citizenship through respect for all, concluding: “We in Jordan share this cause.  Count on all Jordanians as your partners and friends and together, let us help shape the future all our people expect and deserve.”

For her part, Reddy welcomed His Majesty’s first official visit, describing it as significant for the friendship between the two countries and a “welcome chance to discuss the issues that affect us both, many of which have global reach”.

“Strong cooperation and the sharing of knowledge are key to increasing prosperity and security. They are crucial in diverse areas from building links in trade or education to responding to the threat of Daesh,” she said, adding: “Your Majesty, New Zealand is a geographically isolated island nation. This makes our international links all the more important to us, and visits such as yours even more welcome.”

Reddy said that although her country’s term at the UN Security Council concludes this December, “we remain committed to our engagement with Jordan. We are eager to maintain dialogue on both regional and bilateral issues, as well as global challenges”.

In regard to combating terrorism, Reddy said that both Jordan and New Zealand are members of the global coalition to counter Daesh, noting that Jordan was directly impacted by the terrorist group and expressing her condolences for the loss of life Jordan has experienced due to terrorism. 

The governor general said that her country’s contributions to the coalition through non-combat training include deploying up to 143 New Zealand personnel to Iraq, adding: “In January, it was announced that the New Zealand deployment would be extended by a further 18 months.”

As for the Syrian crisis, Reddy said her country’s humanitarian contribution in recent years has focused on assisting refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries, including Jordan.

“But even with international support, we realise that the hospitality of Jordan and its people has not been without significant sacrifices,” she added.

“New Zealand is delighted to host three New Zealand Development Scholarship recipients from Jordan. Another five will commence their studies in 2017.  We continue to encourage Jordanian students to apply for these scholarships. Recipients not only learn valuable new skills, but also foster enduring connections between our two countries,” Reddy said. 

Commenting on the link between both countries’ governments, Reddy said “Foreign Minister Murray McCully has just returned from a visit to Jordan to discuss the Middle East peace process and other regional issues. This is the latest of many high level visits in recent years.”

“On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen of New Zealand, and the government and people of this country... from the four corners of the house of Aotearoa [New Zealand’s name in Maori, the language of New Zealand’s indigenous people], I extend a warm welcome to you,” Reddy concluded. 

Also on Monday, the King visited the National War Memorial, built in appreciation of New Zealand’s soldiers’ sacrifices in the First World War.

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