Interview with His Majesty King Abdullah II

Jun Yang
China People's Daily
30 October 2007

People's Daily: Your Majesty's visit to China is considered of great importance. What is the significance of your visit to developing the relationship between Jordan and China? What topics will you discuss with Chinese leaders? What is your opinion of the current and future of the Jordanian-Chinese relationship?

King Abdullah: I have visited China regularly since I assumed my duties in 1999, and each time I am awed by the strides your country takes in development from year to year. My wife Rania also visited China last month, and she returned inspired by what she saw and experienced. Like many others in the Arab region, we value and respect China as a model for development, and we acknowledge China's important role as a global leader, both politically and economically.

My visit this year has special significance, as this year, we marked the 30th anniversary of relations between our two countries. Our relations are distinguished, and I believe that today we have a new opportunity to build on them to structure a new, more comprehensive relationship between China and the Middle East as a whole that targets common objectives, such as energy security and development issues, the expansion of trade ties and exchange of know how. In the Arab world, China's is a highly respected international voice, and valued as a model of successful economic development. All of these factors can be the foundation of a strategic relationship that secures for our respective peoples an elevated voice on the world stage and new opportunities to shape their future.

People's Daily: Jordan has always played an important role in the Middle East peace process. What efforts will Jordan make to solve the Palestinian issue?

King Abdullah: As you know, in Jordan, we are eager to see a just and comprehensive resolution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. This means the establishment of a viable independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure Israel. We step up to the plate to help the parties move in that direction whenever we think we can play a constructive role. We do this in a number of different ways. This year, we joined the other Arab states in reaffirming our commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative as a framework for the resumption of peace negotiations. We have also worked with other Arab states to build support for this initiative in other Muslim states, and I should add that in this we have been quite successful. We also are in regular contact with states that are directly involved in the peace process - especially the members of the Middle East Quartet - to urge them to support the process and to highlight the risks to global security and stability if this conflict is allowed to drag on much longer. Another part of our platform for conflict resolution is outreach to the supporters of peace in the Palestinian territories, in Israel and in the US, for example. The majority of people on both sides of this conflict support a negotiated settlement. They must make their voices heard so that their leaders will have the confidence they need to move forward and take bold decisions, without being tyrannised by those with radical agendas. This is especially important right now, as we anticipate the convening of the peace meeting in Annapolis.

People's Daily: What is your opinion on the current situation in Palestine?

King Abdullah: As you know, the US is planning to host a peace meeting in Annapolis in the near future. This provides a new and important opportunity. US Secretary of State Rice has been in the region; Tony Blair has also been here. They are trying to help the parties come together. We've been reassured by what we have heard so far from the international community and we appreciate very much their engagement. We need the Israelis and Palestinians to continue the steps on the ground that will help build public confidence in a renewed process. That public confidence in the process is what gives leaders a mandate to act. This is especially true in the Palestinian territories where settlement building and land confiscations need to stop unconditionally. The Palestinians must also be able to rebuild an economic life, quickly, that alleviates daily suffering. Those are the first steps to ensuring the success of the conference. Here, we mean an agreement in principle on the final-status issues that will set the agenda for negotiations and a clear timeframe. All of these will convince the people of the region that the parties are seriously committed to peace and that an end to this conflict is in sight.

People's Daily: What is your opinion on the Iranian nuclear issue?

King Abdullah: Jordan's position is clear. We strongly support a peaceful resolution to the international tension concerning Iran's nuclear capabilities. Our region simply cannot withstand another conflict. Jordan has been at the forefront of countries in the Middle East calling for a region free of weapons of mass destruction and for transparency in nuclear issues in accordance with international law.

People's Daily: What is your opinion on the Iraqi issue?

King Abdullah: We are very concerned about the situation in Iraq, which is resulting in tremendous suffering for the Iraqi people and threatens to destabilise our region. In Jordan, we are committed to the stability, security and territorial integrity of Iraq. We have encouraged the Iraqi government to foster an inclusive political process that brings in all of Iraq's diverse social and religious groups, because this is the only way to realise those objectives. Iraq needs the support of the international community to be able to do this, and so we've been heartened recently by the response from the international community, expressed through the UN, to play a more prominent supportive role. That said, we need to see a greater commitment to respecting Iraq's sovereignty from some countries in the region.

People's Daily: In your opinion, what should China do in the Middle East peace process and other Middle Eastern affairs?

King Abdullah: China already plays an important role in supporting the peace process as a member of the Security Council, both as a world power and a respected and trusted Asian neighbour. We appreciate the efforts that China has already made, including naming a Special Envoy on the Middle East, deploying observers in Lebanon and having presence in Darfur under United Nations auspices. We look forward to China continuing its leadership role in all these areas. China has a great store of credibility in the region, and I hope that by working together, we can leverage that to build a much broader relationship with the Middle East.