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Japan sees Jordan as ‘lynchpin of regional stability’

King, Abe hold talks as two sides sign grant, cooperation deals

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

His Majesty King Abdullah holds a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after concluding their talks in Tokyo on Thursday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah discussed in Tokyo on Thursday strategic relations and regional and international issues with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to a Royal Court statement. 

The talks, attended by HRH Princess Salma and senior officials, covered ways to maintain coordination and communication between Jordan and Japan and boost cooperation in political, economic and security fields. 

Regarding economy, the King and Abe discussed the economic cooperation programme with Japan as initial projects of top priority to Jordan were presented, to benefit from Japan’s development grants programme and support the budget through soft loans to minimise public debt.

The Japanese side announced providing $300 million as a soft loan to be spent on development projects. 

They also discussed boosting cooperation between the private sectors in both countries as on Wednesday, the Jordan-Japanese Business Forum meetings were held between representatives of the private sectors in both countries on the sidelines of His Majesty’s visit. 

The Monarch and Abe discussed the latest developments in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. They also went over efforts to revive Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations where the Japanese side stressed its interest to boost its role and build on the “peace corridor” project to promote economic cooperation between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians, as well as support the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project. 

The two sides stressed the importance of forging a political solution to the Syrian crisis that preserves the unity of Syria’s lands and the safety of its people, with the Japanese premier voicing his country’s appreciation of Jordan’s pro-peace efforts in the region.

In this context, the King and Abe discussed increasing grants to support development projects and the Jordan Response Plan (JRP) to the refugee crisis. Japan announced it would implement the grants directly through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), focusing on priorities related to supporting host communities as detailed in the JRP. 

A Japanese delegation is going to visit the Kingdom next month to determine the grants to these development projects to support host communities, according to the statement. 

In joint press statements after the meetings, the King highlighted the depth of the historic and strategic relations tying Jordan and Japan and the interest to boost them in all fields, especially in economy, noting that Jordan welcomes “the signing of further agreements that we have just witnessed a few moments ago”.

His Majesty thanked Abe for the warm welcome and expressed delight to visit Japan once again, and said: “I would also like to take this opportunity, on behalf of myself and the people of Jordan, to express [condolences] to His Imperial Majesty, the Imperial Family, the people of Japan on the passing away of His late Imperial Highness Prince Mikasa, on behalf of all of us in my country.”

King Abdullah thanked Japan for its support to the Kingdom, highlighting its important role in the region and adding: “Fighting extremism requires a collective approach — a holistic approach is critical to address the interconnected threats facing all of us, not only the Middle East but also Africa, Asia as well as Europe.”

His Majesty thanked Japan for supporting Jordan in shouldering the burdens of the Syrian crisis, which he said “has put unprecedented humanitarian crisis on our country with tremendous strains on our people, our national budget, and also the resources that are limited in our country, and we appreciate the effort that Japan has made in allowing us to be able to share this burden”.

“Here, I need to emphasise that regional issues are connected. The lack of progress on the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis after decades of conflict is a driver for extremism and we need to move beyond the process. And within this context, next year marks the 10th anniversary of the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity initiative,” His Majesty said in his statements. 

For his part, Abe welcomed His Majesty’s visit, especially at a time when Jordan is celebrating its 70th anniversary of independence. 

“Since His Majesty’s last visit to Japan, the relationship between Japan and Jordan has dramatically advanced. For three years in a row, our two countries have had leader-level visits. I have the honour of meeting with His Majesty on other occasions frequently on the margins of major international conferences. And these leader-level exchanges symbolise the close partnership between the two countries,” Abe said. 

The Japanese premier said that Japan’s relations with Jordan are important, describing Jordan as the “lynchpin” of stability in the Middle East.

He added: “I would like to pay my highest respect to His Majesty’s leadership in steering the Kingdom to stable course amidst the difficult circumstances.”

Abe said that during the meeting with King Abdullah, he was able to have a productive and candid exchange of views. “I will introduce the thrust of the outcome.”

“The first, the cooperation in the field of security and defence. I expect that the signing of the MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] on defence cooperation and exchanges will be the foundation for further advancing the bilateral cooperation. I am delighted to have witnessed the MoU just signed,” Abe said, adding “we just had the signing ceremony also for the grant aid, which is an important assistance to Jordan, to provide equipment to be used for security measures produced in Japan”.

Regarding Jordan’s role in hosting refugees and combating terrorism, the Japanese premier said: “For all this, I also convey to His Majesty that Japan will solidly support Jordan in this regard, and for this purpose we will provide approximately 30 billion yen of development policy loan,” concluding that “together with His Majesty, I will endeavour to further develop our bilateral relationship and our joint cooperation”.

After the discussions, a grant agreement was signed with the Japanese government, under which Tokyo will provide an additional $10 million grant to the Kingdom to install modern surveillance systems at the borders and an MoU in the field of defence cooperation. 

The grant agreement was signed by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury and Japanese Ambassador to Jordan Shuichi Sakurai while the MoU was signed by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada.

Abe also held a dinner banquet in honour of His Majesty, Princess Salma and the accompanying delegation, attended by senior Japanese officials. 

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