King holds talks with Canadian PM

29 August 2017

His Majesty King Abdullah and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held talks at Parliament Hill in the Canadian capital on Tuesday and discussed means to enhance the level of cooperation in various fields, as well as current regional developments.

At the start of the bilateral talks, which were followed by an expanded meeting attended by senior officials from both sides, King Abdullah said he is delighted to visit Canada and meet with the prime minister, thanking Ottawa not only for supporting refugees in Jordan, but also for its efforts in the region.

For his part, Prime Minister Trudeau welcomed His Majesty to Canada, stressing the close friendship between the two countries and expressing Ottawa’s keenness to deepen economic ties with Amman, and cooperation on security and refugee issues, as well as other global matters of importance.

At a joint press conference following the expanded meeting, the King expressed pride in the level of Jordanian-Canadian ties.

“We have just concluded some very productive meetings, and I look forward to seeing our relationship continue to strengthen while we advance cooperation,” His Majesty told reporters, thanking Trudeau and the Canadian government “for the generous assistance you continue to provide to Jordan”.

The King urged the private sectors on both sides to capitalise on the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Jordan, the first signed by Canada with an Arab country.

Highlighting ongoing cooperation in capacity building in education, defence and border security capabilities, in addition to joint audio-visual productions, His Majesty said further opportunities abound.

“We look to expand our cooperation in promising fields such as ICT, tourism, and technical education, as well as increasing direct investments,” the King noted.

Jordan and Canada see eye to eye, sharing a dedication to serving refugees and global peacemaking, His Majesty added.

“Canada has warmly welcomed Syrian refugees, and we hope that it continues this humanitarian policy to give new homes to Syrians coming from Jordan and elsewhere in the region,” the King said, expressing appreciation for Canada’s support for host countries like Jordan.

The two countries also share their belief in the values of tolerance and dialogue, and the importance of countering extremist ideologies and hate speech, His Majesty said, reaffirming that “the fight against the global threats of terrorism and extremism can only be won within a holistic approach that exceeds military and security measures to encompass economic, social, and ideological aspects”.

Turning to the Middle East peace process, the King said: “Both Canada and Jordan agree on the importance of the resumption of serious and effective talks between Palestinians and Israelis, leading to a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.”

In Syria, His Majesty voiced hope that “the ceasefire in the southwest will be replicated elsewhere in the country, easing the way to a political solution that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people, guarantees their country’s territorial integrity, and ends the bloodshed”.

“Jordan looks forward to further cooperation with Canada as it works towards regional and global peace,” the King concluded.

Responding to a question on efforts to fight terrorism in light of the progress made on the ground against Daesh, His Majesty acknowledged the progress achieved in Iraq and Syria, but noted that “the challenges are not focused to those two countries”.

The King said Jordan and Canada are examples of countries that are looking at terrorism from a global perspective.

“As we have challenges in Libya, Boko Haram, Shabab, other places in the world, we are all talking to each other so that we stay one-step ahead,” His Majesty noted.

“The relationship between Jordan and Canada is as such that we can have these dialogues not only between ourselves, but many of the coalition partners around the world. So this is a global fight; it’s one that is going to take some time. Hopefully, the military, the security aspect is the short-term, but then the ideological part, education, is going to take much longer,” the King continued.

Being transparent with each other and looking at it from a global perspective, His Majesty asserted, “is the best chance that we have”.

For his part, Trudeau expressed appreciation for Jordan’s role in bringing stability and security to the Middle East, affirming Canada’s support for the Kingdom and its keenness to strengthen cooperation in various fields.

“Over the course of yesterday and today, the King and I have had excellent discussions on Canada and Jordan’s shared commitment to regional security and stability, human rights, and a more prosperous Middle East,” the prime minister told reporters.

“Canada and Jordan have had a long and positive relationship for many years. We commonly trade in textiles, produce, and machinery, and our partnership has become even more prominent with the implementation of the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement,” he added.

Discussions, he said, covered trade, development and women’s rights, as well as the shared values of combatting global terrorism and supporting refugees.

“And today, we have taken concrete steps to further our support to the Kingdom of Jordan as it continues to play a pivotal role in the Middle East,” Trudeau said, highlighting his country’s commitment to working with the World Bank and the Jordanian government to increase municipal projects in Jordan for the benefit of local communities.

This partnership, he continued, will allow for developing infrastructure projects and enhancing municipal services for host communities, stressing that the needs and concerns of local communities, including women, will determine how the projects will be selected.

“We are increasing our contribution to the Global Concessional Financing Facility. This body provides affordable financing for public services that build resilience and boost economic growth among Jordanian communities,” Trudeau added, highlighting benefits such as improving health outcomes, establishing new educational opportunities and creating jobs on the ground, ultimately helping refugees and local communities.

Canada is also committed to working with the UN to improve waste management capacity at Al-Akeider, Jordan’s second largest landfill, with a projected reuse and recycling centre that will be operated by local women, the prime minister said.

“Canada is also contributing $5.5 million to the Middle East Women’s Voices in Leadership initiative. This project supports grassroots organisations that empower women, fight discrimination and advocate for gender equality,” he noted, stressing that all these efforts fall in line with Ottawa’s feminist assistance policy for international development.

“Because when women are supported, it leads to a more stable, peaceful and prosperous world for us all,” he said, adding that Canada looks forward to “continuing our strong partnership with Jordan in the years ahead and continuing to support Jordan in its extraordinary leadership in the region and on the world stage”.

Responding to a question on economic cooperation with Jordan, Trudeau said “there are tremendous opportunities to deepen the relationship”, noting that “our businesses are always looking for more opportunities to invest, and Jordan represents a tremendous potential for a hub, not just within the Middle East, but even stretching down to East Africa”.

Though neither country is the biggest nor most populous in its region, Canada and Jordan share many strong values and perspectives that further enhance their capacity to collaborate, bring partners together, and solve challenges, the prime minister said.

Royal Hashemite Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Trade Minister Yarub Qudah, Minister of State for Investment Affairs Muhannad Shehadeh, Jordan’s Ambassador to Canada Rima Alaadeen, a number of senior Canadian officials, and Canada’s Ambassador to Jordan Peter MacDougall attended the talks.

Prime Minister Trudeau and senior Canadian officials had received His Majesty upon his arrival at Parliament Hill, where he signed the Distinguished Visitors’ Book of the Senate and of the House of Commons.