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Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)

King, French president hold talks on bilateral ties, Mideast issues
Amman, 23 June 2013

His Majesty King Abdullah and Her Majesty Queen Rania received on Sunday French President Francois Hollande and Ms. Valérie Trierweiler.

In welcoming remarks after a tete-a-tete with President Hollande, King Abdullah expressed pride in the level of strategic partnership and relations between the two friendly countries.

His Majesty said Jordan shares with France “the same views regarding the Syrian crisis”, voicing appreciation for French assistance to the Kingdom to overcome the challenges posed by the Syrian conflict and its repercussions.

The King said Jordan was looking forward to seeing the world respond to the call made by Paris to extend a helping hand to the Kingdom to cope with the deepening refugee crisis.

His Majesty asserted that both Jordan and France “believe that the longer the conflict in Syria stretches, the graver the repercussions it will have on the entire region.”

His Majesty stressed the need for a political solution to the crisis, and emphasised that such solution must be comprehensive and inclusive, “engaging everyone” and all components of Syrian society.

Hosting more than half-a-million refugees was placing enormous pressure on basic services, particularly in northern Jordan, the King said, lauding France’s support since the beginning of the crisis, when it deployed a military hospital in Zaatari refugee camp.

On his part, President Hollande praised Jordan’s efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and its humanitarian role as a refugee host country.

The French president also said in separate remarks that the Syrian opposition must “clarify” its ties with extremists in Syria. Such clarification, he stressed, was a prerequisite to any assistance France might plan to send the armed opposition fighting against the regime of Bashar Assad.

Hollande was speaking to the media after the tete-a-tete with His Majesty, which was followed by an expanded meeting attended by His Royal Highness Prince Feisal and officials from both sides.

Speaking about the Friends of Syria meeting that concluded in Doha on Sunday, Hollande said: “I came to Jordan to extend the ideas that were developed in Doha — we want to help in all possible ways; materiel and economic, but also military.”

“We want the opposition to distance itself from extremist groups who want to create chaos in Syria and are being used by the Syrian regime to prevent a political transition,” Hollande added.

He urged the international community to assist Jordan, which has so far received more than 560,000 Syrians.

“We must do everything to help. France has provided 100 million euros in humanitarian aid. And we want to expand further to meet the challenges,” he said.

His Majesty stressed the centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, pinpointing the importance of European support for peace efforts.

His Majesty cautioned against Israeli settlement policies and violations taking place in Jerusalem, “which must be brought to an end, and must be stopped in order to give an opportunity to achieve peace, especially at this time”.

The King urged the international community to help solve final status issues, underlining US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revitalise the peace process.

Hollande said France and Jordan share the same point of view on Palestine. “We support the two- state solution, and want to go in that direction,” he said.

On bilateral ties, King Abdullah said: “I would also like to stress our appreciation of French investments and French cooperation with the public and private sectors, especially the French Development Agency.”

His Majesty highlighted the country’s reform programme, especially at the political and economic levels, noting that the reform process was moving ahead despite the challenges facing the region. Regional instability will not halt the reform process in Jordan, the King stated.

Hollande described bilateral relations as “excellent”, saying “France invests in Jordan because it believes in the Kingdom and its policies.” He added that he hoped for continued collaboration in the areas of higher education, and announced that his government would seek to ease visa requirements for Jordanian students.

His Majesty said the Kingdom was ready to work with France and take the necessary steps to increase bilateral cooperation.

The talks were attended by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh, Minister of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs Nasser Judeh, His Majesty’s Office Director Imad Fakhoury, Interior Minister Hussein Majali, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mashal Zaben and Jordan’s Ambassador to France Dina Kawar.

For the French part, the talks were attended by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Interior Minister Manuel Valls, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Ambassador to Jordan Corrine Breuze and other top officials.

Jordan and France enjoy an advanced level of economic cooperation, with around JD3 billion of French investments in the Kingdom in communications, energy, tourism and banking, among others.

The two countries have signed several cooperation agreements, including the Jordan-EU Partnership Agreement and two bilateral agreements to safeguard investments and avoid double taxation and tax evasion.