Interview with His Majesty King Abdullah II

Salameh Nemat
Al Hayat
12 September 1999
(Translated from Arabic)

"Jordanian King backs integration with Syria, Lebanon"

Amman -- King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of Jordan has called for accelerating work and coordination with neighbouring states in order to "translate the integration idea into a living reality."

King Abdullah told Al-Hayat on the eve of his visit to Beirut, the first by a Jordanian King to Lebanon since 1966: "Our directives in that connection are clear as regards reactivating the joint committees' work and developing relations through such contacts and committees so that we can translate the integration idea into a living reality in which barriers are eliminated, interests are interlinked, and ideas interact through continued consultations."

Asked about the Jordanian view of the idea of tripartite Jordanian-Syrian-Lebanese integration, he said: "We, like His Late Majesty King Hussein, may God have mercy on him, want everyone of us to be aware of the common denominator that combines us so that we can operate through such a framework while preserving the identity of each state." He added: "Our relations with neighbouring states must grow and integrate faster."

He stressed that "we will continue to work toward that with everyone, including Syria and Lebanon, since Jordan is an open country, has numerous options, and will continue to work for stronger Arab relations with a view to achieving real integration."

He pointed out that Jordan's contacts with all the fraternal Arab states "did not and will not be limited to general relations and formal protocols."

He described Jordan's relations with Syria and Lebanon within the peace process framework as "relations of full coordination aimed at achieving an honourable peace based on the resolutions of international legitimacy and the land-for-peace principle."

He said that "there are joint issues concerning a comprehensive and just peace, and we believe that coordination over these issues is a strategic necessity: first with regard to achieving the principles of international legitimacy through which the interests of our people are achieved; second, with regard to the detailed issues concerning the refugees and the water issue.

This is in addition to drawing up a view of the economic ties binding and strengthening our interests in the face of the various challenges and benefiting from the opportunities available at every level and in every sphere."

Sources close to the Jordanian monarch say that the integration among the neighbouring states could represent a step toward crystallising a harmonious economic bloc that reinforces trade exchange and contributes to strengthening the position of the states interested in the European partnership, but not at the expense of any of the other Arab parties. It [integration] would also help the Arab parties to deal with the challenges of the peace process with Israel and the results that it could produce.

King Abdullah denied in a statement last Thursday that the Jordanian rapprochement with Syria and Lebanon was aimed at severing links with the Palestinian issue. He said that that "is meaningless," stressing that "we supported and will continue to support our Palestinian brothers and their national authority in all their effort to achieve the aim of independence and proclaim a Palestinian state on Palestinian territory."