Interview with His Majesty King Abdullah II

Fahim Al Hamed
13 May 2000
(Translated from Arabic)

Okath: Your Majesty, what is the importance of your visit to the Kingdom next Saturday, and what are the objectives of your visit?

King Abdullah: The relations between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are historical and deep-rooted, and they derive their strength and firmness from the endeavours of both countries to develop and strengthen these relations to fulfil the interests of both nations, as well as our one Arab nation.

This visit comes within the frame of coordination and consultation, which were never stopped between the two countries. I am looking forward to seeing my elder brothers King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah as well as Prince Sultan, the second deputy of the cabinet, and other senior officials to discuss various aspects of coordination between both countries, especially in the political arena.

There are many things in common between our two countries in terms of regional and international affairs. Thus, bilateral relations and the situation in the region, the peace process and Arab solidarity will be the core of our talks.

I would like to stress the important role that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is performing in supporting and sustaining Arabian affairs as well as strengthening Arab solidarity and standing beside Arab brothers in all circumstances under the leadership of His Majesty King Fahd.

Okath: The region is experiencing important developments, especially in the Middle East peace process. What are your views for the future of the peace process?

King Abdullah: Despite the troubles facing the peace process, we still believe that the comprehensive, just and lasting peace that we are working for and which constitutes a strategic choice for all parties may be achieved. Of course, this matter would not be achieved without the cooperation of international and Arabian efforts to put Israel under pressure and make her accept the responsibilities of the peace process through commitment to international conventions and the honest implementation of all signed agreements. This commitment is the guarantee for restoring confidence between the concerned parties, as well as restoring confidence in the peace process itself. We also hope that our Palestinian brothers will achieve a framework agreement with the Israelis, and hope that Israel will soon implement the rest of the transitional [Wye] agreement. We also stress the importance of resuming negotiations with the Syrians and Israel's commitment to return all occupied Syrian lands according to the regulations of international legitimacy, to achieve a comprehensive peace.

Okath: You sent a clear political message to Israel prior to your recent visit to Eilat, what were the results?

King Abdullah: All my recent efforts, whether my meetings with President Hosni Mubarak or President Yasser Arafat or contacts with various international parties, were aimed at bringing the peace process back on track and supporting the Arab negotiating position. Our attitude was clear that postponing and procrastinating, as well as trying to evade responsibilities, would not make peace. When I went to Eilat my message was clear, I stressed to the Israeli officials the firm Jordanian position that supports legitimate Arab demands and requests Israel's commitment to the principles of peace that return all Arab rights and guarantee safety and stability to all nations of the region. A deficient peace will not provide the stability that the region is looking for, and which will enable it to achieve comprehensive development and improve the quality of life for all Arab peoples.

Okath: Israel has announced its withdrawal from South Lebanon. How do you see this declaration?

King Abdullah: We have welcomed the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon in accordance with Lebanese and Arabian demands and as an implementation of the resolutions of international legitimacy. This should have been achieved many years ago, since our brother Lebanon has offered great sacrifices in order to achieve this goal. But we would like to confirm that this withdrawal should include all Lebanese territories, land, sea and air, in accordance with Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426.

Okath: What are the goals of inter-Arab coordination?

King Abdullah: I think the Arab situation now is better than before. Communication and inter-Arab meetings are continuous at the highest levels for the purpose of coordination and consultation about various Arab issues but coordination is still below the level we look for. And as you know, I have visited most Arab countries, and I have found a great for the importance of the continuity of inter-Arab meetings and consultations between leaders, as well as the importance of achieving a unified Arab position toward challenges that face our nation. My visit to the Saudi Arabian Kingdom comes within this frame, and within the joint Jordanian-Saudi effort to unify Arab attitudes.

Okath: There are some indicators for holding an Arab summit. What is your attitude towards this?

King Abdullah: We always welcome and call for any Arab meeting, whether in high levels or any other level. And if there is any move toward an Arab summit, we will support it with all our capabilities and power so that we may come out with unified context that fulfils the hopes of our nations in solidarity, especially in this critical time when we are seeing rapid international transformations and the formation of great international economic blocs. And it is time for Arabs to have their own economic bloc to serve the hopes and goals of the Arab nation and build the future for the coming generations.

Okath: We would like to know what role Amman could play in the current stage to activate the peace process in the Middle East?

King Abdullah: We, in Jordan, deeply believe that the Middle East peace process is inevitable, and from this stand we support our Palestinian brothers to regain their legitimate rights, including full recovery of their occupied lands and establishing their independent Palestinian state on the national soil of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.

We also did not spare any effort to support the Syrian and Lebanese positions and clarify their just demands for the full recovery of their occupied lands, and we will do our utmost efforts to achieve this.

Furthermore, and within the same context, we will not delay in offering our help to the concerned parties, if we were asked to, so that we may help communicate their views toward the remaining issues and build bridges of confidence between them to restore the peace process to its natural course.

Okath: Are we Arabs prepared for a post-peace era?

King Abdullah: If that era means that we Arabs have gained all our legitimate rights, and peace has prevailed and stability is strengthened, there is no doubt that we should go forward seriously and enthusiastically toward achieving comprehensive social and economic development. This development relies upon a firm base of serious inter-Arab cooperation. The ordinary Arab citizen would see the positive consequences of a peace settlement through improved living standards and the availability of job opportunities in a peaceful and prosperous atmosphere.

Okath: What are your views on Saudi-Jordanian coordination towards the peace process?

King Abdullah: Coordination and consultation with our brothers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, being highly reputed and having a great role in the region and internationally, is given a maximum importance by us, whether in terms of bilateral relations or in terms of various Arab, regional and international affairs that have common interests, especially the peace process. Our numerous meetings with King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah have concentrated mainly on developments in the peace process and means to help it to achieve a comprehensive and just peace. I am fully confident that this coordination will continue and that we will be able to help all parties achieve solutions for the remaining issues that prevent the peace process from achieving its desired goals.