At the Luncheon Hosted by His Excellency Jan Peter Balkenende
The Hague, The Netherlands
31 October 2006
Prime Minister Balkenende,
Thank you for your kind words. It is a great honour to join you today. Our lunch is taking place near the end of what I feel has been a very successful visit. And it gives me the opportunity to reflect on some of the issues we have discussed and some of the important ties our nations share.
We discussed the urgent issue of peace in the Middle East. This continuing conflict is, far and away, the most serious threat to the stability and future of my entire region. Every delay lets the situation grow worse. It is time for concerted international action, to get the parties moving forward. We need to be very clear about the goal: positive, concrete steps, leading to a just, legal settlement that will hold for the long term. What we need to achieve, is described in the Arab Peace Initiative, and it has global support: a two-state solution, based on international legality, with a viable, independent Palestine state that can offer hope to its people, and a secure Israel that lives in peace with all its neighbours.
We discussed the critical need for intercultural, interfaith dialogue. The partnership among the world's different groups, particularly Muslims and non-Muslims, is critical to our future. In this century, we interact more, and depend on each other more, than ever in history. There is simply no room for ignorance and disrespect.
Extremism and hatred, on both sides, grow through ignorance. There must be a new and global dialogue about the values we share - and about our differences, what they mean, and the importance of respect.
In recent years, Muslims across the globe - have stepped forward to spread Islam's central message about human kinship. It is a message of peace, tolerance, compassion, and respect for others. Here in Europe, many groups are sharing in new dialogue. I have been tremendously impressed by the sincerity of the people I have spoken to here. And I pledge Jordan's support for the continuing dialogue.
We discussed development and reform in the Middle East, especially in Jordan. Our country's goal is a strong, effective economy and stable, democratic political institutions.
Reform is a process, not a one-step solution. It takes involvement and commitment of people throughout society. As we have moved forward, we have engaged the private sector and civil society. I am pleased to say our efforts are beginning to deliver results.
The ties between Jordan and the Netherlands are vital. Our two governments have a very special and effective working relationship at the different political and economic levels.
The Dutch people have made historic contributions to the growth of human liberty, knowledge, and culture. In this century, you are playing a key role as an advocate of international law and peace. You have met the challenges of the modern world with courage and the highest ideals of humanity and civilisation. On behalf of the entire Jordanian delegation, allow me to express our sincere appreciation for your warm welcome to us.Prime Minister Balkenende, it has been my very great pleasure to meet with you and your colleagues.
I wish the people of the Netherlands peace and prosperity.
Thank you very much.