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King holds talks with Japanese PM, as Jordan, Japan eye wider economic cooperation

AMMAN- His Majesty King Abdullah and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in talks held on Tuesday, agreed to upgrade Jordanian-Japanese ties to a strategic partnership in political and economic fields.
 
During talks at Al Husseiniya Palace, attended by HRH Crown Prince Hussein, King Abdullah and Prime Minister Abe affirmed the importance of advancing economic and commercial cooperation, as well as increasing Japanese investments in vital sectors in Jordan, according to a statement by the Royal Court.
 
At bilateral and expanded talks—also attended by HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, His Majesty’s chief adviser for religious and cultural affairs and personal envoy, and senior officials on both sides—Jordan and Japan agreed to maintain coordination and consultations on various issues of mutual concern, in the service of peace in the region and the world, the statement indicated.
 
At the expanded talks, His Majesty welcomed Prime Minister Abe, who is heading a delegation of senior officials and CEOs of major Japanese companies on his visit.
 
 “We in Jordan have great admiration for Japan’s role as a global leader, for your specific leadership on many of the challenges that we have faced in this area, and, again, the warm hand of friendship that you have shown our people with all the support that you have given us,” the King said.
 
 “Our bilateral ties go back over 60 years, and we have always enjoyed this distinguished friendship at the political, economic, and defence levels. Japan has and continues to be a strong partner for Jordan, and we are truly grateful for all the support that you give us,” the Monarch added.
 
 “Your ongoing aid to the Syrian refugees and the Jordanian host communities has been really vital to our country’s resilience and development,” the King noted.
 
 “Today’s situation demands, obviously, a new sense of urgency. The Syrian refugee crisis has put a huge burden on our people and economy, but our special relationship and common vision has developed from strengths to strengths,” His Majesty added.
 
The King noted the Aqaba Meetings held earlier this week, which Jordan and Japan co-chaired to coordinate efforts to counter extremism, adding that the two countries have a mutual global vision.
 
 “We have spoken about some of the political issues of the region, and key among them is obviously an inclusive political solution through the Geneva process to the Syrian crisis, but also the strong support to a two-state solution to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and ensure regional stability,” His Majesty stressed.
 
For his part, Prime Minister Abe said he was delighted to visit Jordan again, noting that he last visited the Kingdom three years ago. Abe also mentioned his meeting with the King in September 2017.
 
 “Japan and Jordan share a traditional relationship of friendship. And since my last visit here, within the three-year timeframe, we have strengthened our ties in every field, including diplomatic, security, and economic cooperation. And I am very pleased to see such progress,” the Japanese prime minister said.
 
 “I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt tribute and respect to your leadership, Your Majesty, in your efforts to counter violent extremism, as well as your efforts to promote the Middle East peace process; and also, your generosity in hosting... more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees,” he added.
 
Jordan’s stability “is indispensable for regional stability, and Japan will continue providing assistance to you as much as possible, so as to ensure your social and economic stability, and to support your development efforts”, Prime Minister Abe affirmed.
 
The prime minister announced that Jordan and Japan will seek to elevate their special relationship to a strategic partnership, with the aim of “dramatically” developing bilateral ties.
 
Prime Minister Abe noted that he “brought an impressive list of business leaders from Japan” as part of the accompanying business delegation.
 
The expanded talks covered investment opportunities in Jordan’s energy, transport, water, infrastructure, ICT, and agriculture sectors.
 
The two countries also discussed expertise exchange and the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on Jordan’s economy.
 
Discussing counterterrorism efforts within a holistic approach, and Jordanian-Japanese coordination in this regard, Abe said countering terrorism is a major priority in Asia.
 
He commended His Majesty’s role in hosting the Aqaba Meetings to coordinate global efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism, stressing that the King represents the voice of moderation in the region.
 
Discussions also addressed regional and international developments, especially the Palestinian cause, with His Majesty stressing the importance of stepping up efforts to break the stalemate in the peace process and relaunch serious and effective Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, based on the two-state solution and leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
 
The King commended Japan’s role in supporting peace efforts in the region through its “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative, launched over 10 years ago.
 
Moreover, talks touched on the vital role of UNRWA and the importance of supporting it to ensure it maintains educational, healthcare, and relief services for Palestinian refugees.
 
The need to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis that guarantees its stability and territorial integrity was also discussed.
 
The expanded meeting was followed by a working lunch hosted by His Majesty in honour of Prime Minister Abe, and was attended by senior officials on both sides and CEOs of Japanese companies.
 
In remarks at the lunch, the King said: “I hope that our meeting will enable us to launch new business opportunities and partnerships for the prosperity of our two peoples.”
 
His Majesty noted that “Jordan and Japan have longstanding economic ties, since the 1970s, and Japan is one of Jordan’s first foreign business partners.”
 
 “We have excellent bilateral ties, and we are keen on diversifying economic partnerships and tapping the vast potential in so many sectors,” the King said.
 
His Majesty highlighted Jordan’s key regional location, its stability, and its investor-friendly eco-system as advantages that can make it a launch pad for Japan into the Middle East and North Africa and a hub for reconstruction projects in Syria and Iraq.
 
The shipping lines from the Aqaba Port can serve as an important connection point between the two countries, the King continued, noting that Jordan and Japan “have much in common”.
 
 “We both have limited resources and have looked to innovation to gain a competitive edge,” His Majesty said.
“We are eager to learn from your ground-breaking success, and we hope to see more partnerships between Jordan and Japanese companies, and increase technology transfer and capacity building in energy production, heavy industries, and other vital sectors,” the King told Prime Minister Abe and the accompanying delegation.
 
Also speaking at the lunch, Abe noted the “steady progress” of the two countries’ cooperative relationship.
 
 “On the economic front, thermal power generation, solar power generation, and such infrastructure projects are seeing specific progress, and cooperation is underway,” he said.
 
 “In terms of investment treaty negotiations, we have reached agreement in substance, and we look forward to further progress in terms of our economic relations,” the prime minister added.
 
 “We have with us Japanese businesses and executives who would have a strong interest in Jordan, and we expect that they will take it upon themselves to expand our bilateral relationship,” Prime Minister Abe stressed.
 
At the working lunch, Minister of State for Investment Affairs Muhannad Shehadeh highlighted Jordan’s investment-friendly environment and the Kingdom’s multiple free trade agreements, as well as its strategic location as a gateway into regional and global markets.
 
The Japanese CEOs praised Jordan’s investment climate and the incentives it offers, noting the Kingdom’s stability and security, as well as its qualified human resources.
 
They expressed interest in expanding investment projects in Jordan and establishing partnerships with the Jordanian private sector, particularly in renewable energy, ICT, and pharmaceuticals.
 
Discussions also covered the potential for Jordan to benefit from Japan’s expertise in vocational and technical training.
 
Prime Minister Hani Mulki, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Economic Affairs Jafar Hassan, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Adviser to His Majesty and Director of the Office of His Majesty Manar Dabbas, Planning Minister Imad Fakhoury, Finance Minister Omar Malhas, Jordan’s Ambassador to Japan Demiye Haddad, and Japan’s Ambassador to Jordan Hidenao Yanagi, as well as the accompanying visiting delegation, attended the talks.
 
Jordan Times
May 1, 2018