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Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)

King Speaks of Local & Regional Issues
Amman, 29 June 2002

His Majesty King Abdullah said that Amman's "political saloons" is the biggest barrier facing Jordan's development because they are working against each other adding that this game must end. The King, however, welcomed the existence of "political saloons" which work positively.

In an interview to the Kuwaiti "Al Siasah", Lebanese "Al Nahar", UAE "Al Bayan", Saudi " Al Jazeerah", Qatari "Al Sharq", Bahraini " Al Ayyam" and the Jordanian" Al Ra'i" and " Ad-Dustour" Newspapers conducted by Al Siasah Editor in Chief Ahmad Al Jarrallah, the King said: "we need new blood, we have educated people who must be given an opportunity to work. We have young people who still think of favoritism and we need a year or two to get rid of this".

His Majesty said:" we used to change governments every six months but if we adopt this methodology we will not be able to work. Keeping the government for two or four years is necessary to find a mechanism for work".

The King added:" If I want to change a government I do it for the better otherwise it is better to keep the one I know because its advantages exceed its disadvantages".

His Majesty said that if we look at what has been achieved in Jordan in the past three years, we can say that they are many but the government can't achieve development alone.

Answering a question on delaying parliamentary elections, His Majesty pointed to his call to increase the number of deputies to enhance transparency as a first step, adding that democracy goes in steps until it is completed.

His Majesty said that he wants transparent elections and he, therefore, he called for issuing electronic magnetic cards so that the government won't interfere in the elections..

Answering a question on the Palestinians being a majority in the Jordanian society, the King said that this is not true, pointing that the strength of the Jordanian society lies in its diversity. He added that Jordanians of all origins whether they were of a Palestinian or any other Arab origin help in Jordan's progress and strength.

His Majesty pointed that the relation between Jordan and the future Palestinian state on the Palestinian lands will be brotherly one and that Jordan will support this state to fulfill the hopes of the Palestinians who have struggled and who deserve to have a place on the world map. He added that the talk of a danger that threatens Jordan in case a Palestinian state is established is nonsense and is wanted to disturb the justice of the Palestinian cause.

On His Majesty's efforts on the international arena, he said that all his efforts are devoted to gathering support for the Palestinian cause, adding that all his meetings with the world leaders concentrated on helping the efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East and end the suffering of Palestinians.

King Abdullah added:" our suggestions are based on giving Palestinians hope in establishing their independent viable state side by side with the state of Israel and that we as Arabs must admit Israel's right in living securely and within secure borders.

But His Majesty made it clear that the Israeli military escalation after a year and half of the intifada has taken an aggressive track on the Palestinian civilians and the Palestinian infrastructure. "we had to move on all levels to save the situation so we contacted the United Stated, Europe, Russia and the active powers for the sake of peace and to prevent more deterioration.

King Abdullah said that despite what is happening, we didn't lose hope in achieving peace, expressing belief that the Palestinian and Israeli people are fed up of the continued killing and destruction and are ready to listen to the sound of peace and reject violence.

His Majesty affirmed that the United States is committed to its vision on the establishment of a Palestinian state, pointing that during his meetings with President Bush, the emphasis was on the fact that unless the political problem in the Palestinian cause is solved on a political base and not security one, and unless an independent Palestinian state is established within a reasonable time table the cycle of, violence will continue.

On President Bush's last initiative, King Abdullah said that this initiative forms the beginning of the end of the conflict between Arabs and Israelis, adding that we are ready to work with all the parties to achieve peace and establish normal relations with Israel.

The King said that President Bush's statement was consistent with Jordan's stand on defining the general frame for the solution and specifying the timetable to relaunch negotiations, adding that President Bush's call for the establishment of a Palestinian state is a positive thing and it is welcomed.

King Abdullah expressed hope that Bush's new initiative would restore calm to the Palestinian lands and end violence. He also voiced hope that that Israel would respond to this initiative.

The King said that the talk of a Palestinian state without talking of its timetable and defining it is unacceptable.

Regarding a temporary Palestinian state, His Majesty said that this concept is a new one in the political dictionary and what we want is a full state by all means that is established in accordance with UN resolutions 242, 338 and 1397.

In reply to a question on the future of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, King Abdullah said that Arafat's future should be decided by the Palestinian people only, and the idea of thinking on behalf of peoples is dangerous and unacceptable. " When Palestinians decide what they want and what they think, we must respect their opinion and support them," he added, noting that we in Jordan back the elected leadership of the Palestinian people and put our capabilities at their disposal when they decide their future themselves and regain their rights on their lands and build their independent state.

King Abdullah said that the Palestinians are the ones who decide who their leader is and that we do not want a role for Jordan in the West Bank. "Our role should focus on providing support to the Palestinians until they overcome their plight and until the occupation ends," he added noting that he will not allow in any way to replace the Israeli soldier in the Palestinian lands with a Jordanian one.

Regarding the proposed international conference, His Majesty said that invitations should be extended to all parties to attend the conference especially Syria and Lebanon so to ensure that we will have a comprehensive peace and a clear and a specific agenda. "The conference should deal, in addition to the political issues, with the economic issues and the suffering of the Palestinian people," King Abdullah said, noting that without an immediate international support especially by the US, we will not be able to move.

He pointed out that any US president fears an involvement in the Middle East issue, indicating that President Bush is enthusiastic and convinced in a Palestinian state but there is a pressure on him. " He is so strong but war for us as politicians is not between Israel and the Palestinians and he is aware of the internal and external situation and the influence of Israel on the US, but deep in his heart he knows what is required," His Majesty added.

As for peace, King Abdullah said that he expects peace to be achieved soon in the region. "We as Arabs in addition to Israel and the world do not want another 15 years of conflict and we say to everyone that if you want to establish a Palestinian state on 40% of the lands of the West Bank and Gaza, then you are not solving the problem.

His Majesty said that "when he meets with Blair, Chirac, Putin, Schroeder, Zemin or Anan, they all speaks in one language when it comes to the peace process". " The Europeans told me that when you speak with Bush, you speak on behalf of the Europeans and for the first time the European position and the Arab position is one," he added.

On Jordanian-US relations, His Majesty said that despite the fact that we agree on many things with the US, we may differ on certain issues but our relations will remain strong.

"On the political front, you must admit the importance of the US's role and its influence in the world and if we ignore that we will not be able to achieve peace in the region," he added, noting that the US provides substantial aid to Jordan and the FTA between the two countries provided an opportunity to increase cooperation between the two countries.

The King expressed hope that Jordan will have more Arab and foreign investments in the years ahead. He pointed out that our relations with the US and the world is good and that this also applies to the US Congress.

Regarding war on terrorism that is waged by the US the King said: "We have said that we are against terrorism in all its forms because we have suffered from it and we were as a country and people a victim of it. However, we affirmed that war on terrorism should not become a war on Islam".

Regarding the new generation of Arab leaders, His Majesty said that leaders of the new generation need support from their peoples and "we as new leaders began to talk in on language".

His Majesty affirmed that we are believers in unity and solidarity and that Arab unity and solidarity will guarantee solving all their problems.

" In light of globalization, Arabs should have their economic bloc that promotes inter-Arab trade and remove obstacles facing the flow of trade thus achieving a dignified life for our peoples," His Majesty added.

King Abdullah described relations with Iraq as very good, expressing hope that these relations will be further promoted for the common interest of both peoples and for the interest of the Arab nations. " Solving the dispute between Iraq and the United States and Iraq and the UN requires a practical and a serious dialogue to avert the region more catastrophes, for striking Iraq will be a catastrophe not only for Iraq but also for the region as a whole," he said.

His Majesty expressed satisfaction over his recent visits to a number of Gulf states, expressing hope that he would visit these countries again to further promote brotherly relations with them. Regarding his visit to Kuwait, King Abdullah said that it was fruitful and successful, indicating that we are on the threshold of a new stage where opportunities of cooperation should be used.