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King meets US state, defence secretaries in Washington

By JT - Jan 12,2016 - Last updated at Jan 12,2016

His Majesty King Abdullah holds talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on Monday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

WASHINGTON — His Majesty King Abdullah began a working visit to Washington with a meeting on Monday with US Secretary of State John Kerry during which regional developments and international anti-terror efforts were discussed.

His Majesty stressed the need for intensified international efforts to find a comprehensive solution to Syria's nearly five-year-old civil war that can bring an end to the large-scale suffering of Syrians, a Royal Court statement said.

The two sides also reviewed means to revive the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis on the basis of the two-state solution and relevant international resolutions, the statement said.

The King also voiced appreciation for Washington's assistance to Jordan in various fields, which enables the Kingdom to implement its development and modernisation process and alleviate its burdens resulting from hosting a large number of refugees, the statement said.

For his part, Kerry renewed his country's support to Jordan, citing the Kingdom's pivotal regional role and its efforts to safeguard security and stability in the Middle East, the statement said.

The meeting was attended by Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, King's Office Director Jaafar Hassan and Amman's Ambassador to Washington Alia Bouran. 

Later on Monday, King Abdullah discussed with the US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter the Jordanian-American cooperation, especially in military fields.

During the meeting at the Pentagon, the two sides also discussed the international efforts to diminish the capabilities of radical organisations, mainly the Daesh terrorist gang, the Royal Court said.

The two sides also stressed the importance of maintaining constant coordination and consultation among all regional and international key players to address terrorism through a comprehensive approach, the statement said.

At a meeting with representatives of Arab and Islamic organisations in Washington, the King stressed the important role of Arab and Muslim American leaders in clarifying the image of Islam as a faith of tolerance, especially amidst attempts by terrorists and “khawarej” (outlaws of Islam) to distort it.

He said terror is the foremost challenge facing the entire world, according to a Royal Court statement.

Countering terror, His Majesty said, is a priority for Arabs and Muslims, because the war on terror is their war — first and foremost. 

The war on terrorism, which now threatens many countries, especially in Asia and Africa, and the war on groups such as Daesh, he said, must be a comprehensive effort to which all must contribute.

King Abdullah stressed that Arab and Islamic organisations in the US can play a pivotal role in supporting the efforts to counter terror and extremism by showing the true image of Islam and its teachings of tolerance, and by extending bridges of cooperation and understanding between the East and the West.

In addition to being a military and security endeavour, the war on terror is an ideological battle, the King noted, warning of the spread of the phenomenon of Islamophobia among Western communities.

Discussions at the meeting also covered the various developments and the challenges in the Middle East and means to enhance its security and stability, the statement said.

The King highlighted the developments in Syria and international efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution that puts a stop to the cycle of death and violence and ends the suffering of the Syrian people.

He also undelined Jordan’s burdens resulting from hosting nearly 1.4 million Syrian refugees, calling for more international support to the Kingdom’s humanitarian assistance to them, the statement said. 

The King noted that the Syrian refugees, who constitute 20 per cent of the Kingdom’s population, add more pressure on the hosting communities’ health, education and municipality services and infrastructure in addition to the refugees’ competition with Jordanian for the already scarce job opportunities.  

The Monarch also said that the world has at last begun to realise the Syrian refugee crisis with the shockwaves of Syria’s ongoing war reaching Europe, the statement said.

The King also pointed to the international conference which will be held in London next month to discuss the problem of Syrian refugees in the world, especially in Jordan, according to the statement.

He also stressed the need to address the region’s economic challenges, especially the high unemployment and poverty rates, explaining that the absence of economic opportunity is a major reason behind the young peoples’ tendency towards terror and radicalisation.

The King also said that the Palestinian cause lies at the heart of the region’s struggles, stressing that importance of reviving peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. 

The King noted that Jordan will continue its historic custodianship role over Jerusalem’s holy sites, especially Al Aqsa Mosque and Al Haram Al Sharif, the statement said.

The King also urged the Arab and Islamic American organisations to utilise their connections with the American people and institutions to clarify the challenges facing the Middle East and means to address them, the statement said.   

For their part, representatives of the organisations voiced appreciation for His Majesty’s efforts to bring about peace and security in the Middle East and clarify the true image of Islam as a moderate faith.

They called King Abdullah “the voice defending Islam in the world”. 

They also thanked Jordan for hosting Syrian refugees and urged further support from the world community.

In remarks to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Ziad Asali, president and founder of the American Task Force on Palestine noted that Jordan’s voice is heard in Washington “because it is the voice of reason and because Jordan addresses problems calmly”.

 

The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) told Petra the continuous meetings between King Abdullah and leaders of the Arab and Islamic groups are very crucial, especially as they shed light on Jordan’s stands and policies to the US and the world. 

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