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Speeches
Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II
At the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Dinner
New York, US
21 September 2006

In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,

President Clinton,
My friends,

Thank you, and thank you all for your warm welcome. It's a pleasure to be with you this evening. Rania and I are honoured to participate once again in this remarkable world gathering.

If I may, I'd also like to take this occasion to wish President Clinton the best on his recent milestone, 60th birthday.

In my part of the world, there's an old saying that grey hair is the torch of wisdom. If that's the case, President Clinton, your wisdom is lighting the world.

We are all grateful for the Clinton Global Initiative; now in its second year. Its very name puts the focus on two critical aspects of leadership today.

One is initiative: the will to take those first, often difficult steps. To move past today's limits and crises, and initiate positive change. To act, and act boldly.

The second is the global context. The recognition that, just as we share the future, we share the right and the responsibility to shape that future.

Gathered in this room are leaders from every continent. And each one of us has a duty and deep desire to serve our people - as I seek to serve Jordan and the Arab Nation. But today, a critical part of our duty to our own nations is to reach out to others, in international cooperation and respect.

The fact is, the 21st century world has the capacity to provide better lives for billions of people. The tools and knowledge exist to reach developing economies and societies and expand well being significantly. And that would be a win-win process for all sides.

But to succeed, we must take our dialogue to a new level, the level of action. People, especially young people, need to see tangible results. Three key areas need our urgent attention: development, global understanding, and conflict resolution. Tonight I'd like to say a brief word about each.

Sustainable development is a virtuous cycle: it both creates, and benefits from, economic stability and growth. Starting the cycle requires global cooperation, and often, tough choices. Developed nations must choose to make a commitment: to urgently-needed debt relief, to increased direct assistance, and to fairer trade policies; we in the developing world must choose good governance and sound economic measures.

All this suggests a framework for global development as well; a framework of partnerships.

And this brings me to the second area for our urgent attention: the need for global understanding and respect.

The vast majority of people around the world reject extremism. But more needs to be done to fight stereotypes and disrespect. That means teaching our young people the common bonds of our religions and civilisations.

Such efforts are under way across the Muslim world. Almost two years ago, Jordan released the Amman Message. It articulates Muslim values of tolerance, compassion, and respect for others.

But the road to moderation and understanding is not for us alone. All faiths, all cultures, have a responsibility to advance the global respect on which our future depends.

My friends,

In building trust, dialogue - however important - is no substitute for action. We must live up to our commitment to justice and peace. This brings me to the subject of conflict resolution. And no where is it more important than in my region, the Middle East.

President Clinton, you once said that the road to peace is no easier and in many ways it is harder than the road to war. Yet the road to peace was one that you and my father King Hussein walked, and that we must walk today. Continued conflict is detrimental to the future of the region. Recent crises demonstrate the urgency of ending the violence and destruction. It is time for a lasting, just solution, one that addresses the central problem: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Arab Peace Initiative, first articulated in 2002, provides an effective basis for peace. Now, as an international community, we need to build a partnership of action, to encourage and support a return to negotiations and keep the parties moving towards results. And we must act now. With every day of delay, more lives are lost and more futures destroyed.

My friends,

The global challenges are very real. But you who are achievers, know better than most, that what we envision, we can make happen. And together, here, you can create a global vision: a world of genuine peace in which all share the promise of our century. In partnership, I believe we will succeed.

Thank you very much.