By Camille Dupire – Aug 02,2018 -JORDAN TIMES
His Majesty King Abdullah meets with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian in Amman on Thursday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)
AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Thursday met with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, with whom he reviewed the “strategic relations” between Jordan and France and the latest regional developments, a Royal Court statement said.
The King voiced Jordan’s appreciation for the support provided by France to various programmes across the Kingdom and to mitigate the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on the Jordanian economy, as Paris announced a billion euros in the coming three years to help Syrian refugees and their regional hosts, including Jordan.
Regarding the Mideast peace process, the King stressed the need to intensify the efforts aimed at re-launching negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, based on the two-state solution, to establish an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
King Abdullah underscored the importance of the EU role in solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The King and the minister also reviewed the developments related to the Syrian crisis and the efforts to reach a political solution that achieves stability and allows for the return of Syrians to their homeland, the statement said.
Prime Minister Omar Razzaz also held a meeting with France’s top diplomat, during which he highlighted the various investment opportunities available in Jordan, and commended France’s continued support for the Kingdom, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
France is Jordan’s number one foreign investment partner, noted Razzaz, who also commended France’s balanced approach on foreign policy.
Jordan’s way out of the crisis is through foreign investment and exportation to non-traditional markets, the premier said.
“Jordan’s infrastructure and human resources are suited to platform economic progress,” he said. But the greatest challenge remains attaining macro-economic stability, something the government is still working to achieve.
Le Drian said France would continue to support Jordan in its economic reforms journey to overcome its current challenges.
Earlier during the day, Le Drian stressed France’s commitment to standing by Jordan in its efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which includes “one of the most serious humanitarian crises” happening in the Gaza Strip.
During a press conference with his counterpart Ayman Safadi, Le Drian reaffirmed the French government’s support for the two-state solution as the only possible resolution to the Mideast conflict.
He stressed his country’s commitment to provide support to the Jordanian authorities in this regard, citing a recent humanitarian assistance delivery to the Jordanian army’s Royal Medical Services for the Jordanian military field hospital in Gaza.
On Syria, the French minister reviewed the latest developments on the ground, most specifically in the southwestern part of the country, urging the international community to keep mobilising for a political solution to the eight-year long conflict.
“As announced at the second Brussels conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region in April, France will continue to mobilise its efforts, with a commitment of more than one billion euros for the period 2018-2020,” Le Drian stated, noting, “this aid will help support both Syrians and the countries hosting Syrian refugees, like Jordan.”
He praised the role played by the Kingdom in hosting large numbers of refugees and delivering various services despite the strains put on its resources, noting that France has already provided 600 million euros in loans and grants to support Jordan since 2016.
“This support will not only help Jordan keep providing services to its citizens and Syrian refugees on its soil, but it is also an expression of our full support to the Jordanian government’s economic reforms,” Le Drian underlined.
The French minister praised the “brotherly ties” between the two countries which date back to some 70 years, noting that King Abdullah was the first head of an Arab state to be received by French President Emmanuel Macron in June 2017.
As of 2018, France is the top European investor in Jordan, according to a statement by the French embassy, with projects implemented in the strategic fields of water, energy, transportation and local development through the French Agency for Development.
As part of his two-day visit to the Kingdom, Le Drian visited the Azraq refugee camp, where he toured the UN Women Oasis for Women and Girls project, which receives support from the French government to provide cash-for-work opportunities to vulnerable Syrian refugee women, along with protection, civic engagement and education services.
He also met with representatives of Jordanian civil society at the French ambassador’s residence in Amman, with whom he discussed women’s rights in Jordan, a French embassy statement said.