BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour on Thursday delivered a letter from His Majesty King Abdullah to Iraq’s President Fouad Massoum that focused on strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation.
The letter addressed ways to boost coordination and consultation on various issues deemed important for the Arab nation and the Iraqi and Jordanian peoples.
In the letter, the King commended the Iraqi leadership’s continued efforts to foster security and stability in Iraq, maintain unity and achieve national reconciliation.
His Majesty asserted his commitment, at this critical stage in terms of the prevailing regional conditions, to ensuring continued coordination and consultation with Iraq, boosting cooperation and joint Arab action, and strengthening joint capabilities to confront extremism and combat terrorist groups.
At the meeting with Massoum, the premier said his one-day visit to Baghdad is upon Royal directives to extend all forms of support for "brothers in Iraq".
Massoum conveyed his greetings to King Abdullah, noting that the Royal letter was in line with Iraq’s expectations.
“It included the support we expected for Iraq under the difficult circumstances,” he said, highlighting his recent meeting with King Abdullah in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings.
The Iraqi president stressed Iraq’s desire to benefit from Jordan’s expertise in building its security and military bodies, expressing his conviction that the Kingdom will remain an oasis of stability.
During his visit, Ensour also held talks with his Iraqi counterpart Haider Al Abadi and other senior officials on ways to boost relations between the two countries.
Discussions also addressed the security challenges facing Iraq and ways to increase coordination in confronting terrorist groups.
During the talks, attended by Jordanian and Iraqi ministers and other senior officials, Ensour said his visit to Baghdad carries a political message, confirming the Kingdom’s support for Iraq’s reform process and fight against terrorist groups that are targeting its unity and stability.
Referring to the "barbaric attacks" in Iraq, Ensour noted that there are attempts to distort the true image of Islam by a group that is “as distant as it can be from Islam”, noting that Jordan’s participation in the international coalition against terrorist groups in Iraq, especially “Daesh” — the Arabic acronym used to refer to the Islamic State group — will continue.
Underscoring the distinguished bilateral relations, the premier pointed out that Jordan does not interfere in Iraq’s domestic affairs and only supports the choices of the Iraqi people.
Stressing the Kingdom’s support for Iraq to overcome the difficult conditions it is going through, Ensour said this is the message that “His Majesty entrusted me with shortly before my visit to Baghdad”.
Abadi commended Jordan’s position, especially in support of Iraq’s efforts to combat terrorist groups, stressing the historic relations between the two countries and the desire to boost joint cooperation.
The Jordanian side asserted that the battle against terrorism is “our war” first and foremost rather than that of the West, as King Abdullah has made it clear, and that combating terrorism necessitates countering extremist and radical ideologies.
Turning to the Syrian issue, the Jordanian delegation reiterated that the crisis in Syria requires a political solution in light of the deteriorating humanitarian conditions and continued bloodshed.
Furthermore, the two sides discussed economic and commercial cooperation under the Jordanian-Iraqi free trade agreement, which went into effect in March 2013, and under the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement.
They also discussed ways to deal with Iraq’s debt to the Central Bank of Jordan and Jordanian companies as well as means to increase agricultural cooperation.
Moreover, the Jordanian side requested that the issue of the 5 per cent tax imposed on Iraqi imports transiting through Jordan be resolved.
In addition, discussions covered energy cooperation, especially in relation to the Basra-Aqaba oil pipeline project, besides the issue of electric grid connectivity and the possibility of resuming oil imports from Iraq, which were suspended at the end of 2013 due to security conditions.
The Jordanian delegation also highlighted the need to rehabilitate the land route between Jordan and Iraq especially since the road's current condition may lead to accidents.
At a joint press conference following the talks, Ensour reiterated Amman’s support for Baghdad, noting that Jordan has always maintained excellent relations with Iraq as a state, not with a specific regime, which is the choice of the Iraqi people.
The Kingdom, he said, is part of the international coalition in the war against terrorism, stressing that Islam is the religion of mercy and tolerance which does not allow the killing of children, eliminating minorities, and tearing down mosques and churches.
Regarding the presence of members of the Iraqi opposition in Jordan, Ensour said some are in the Kingdom, noting that this is “the best place for them to be, because the country’s position is clear in that there is no conspiracy against Iraq”.
No one in Jordan, he stressed, is working in any way to harm Iraq and its government.
The premier also stressed the need for a clear vision in combating terrorism, noting that this should start with addressing its root causes by raising awareness.
In addition, Ensour highlighted the importance of intelligence work and coordination with others in combating terrorism, citing police training centres in Jordan, where more than 63,000 Iraqi police officers have received training.
Turning to the issue of Jordanian prisoners in Iraq, the premier said the Riyadh agreement, signed by both countries, allows for the exchange of convicts, provided that they are not wanted on terrorism charges, adding that there are around 22 Jordanians who are serving prison sentences in Iraq.
The Iraqi premier said talks dealt with boosting bilateral relations and addressed security conditions in Iraq and combating the so-called Islamic State, commending Jordan’s efforts within the international coalition to fight this terrorist group.
He also noted that the two sides agreed that the security of Iraq is part of the security of Jordan.
During Thursday's visit, Ensour also met separately with Parliament Speaker Salim Jabouri, vice presidents Iyad Allawi, Nouri Al Maliki and Osama Al Nujaifi, all of whom stressed the importance of regional cooperation to help Iraq overcome challenges.
The Iraqi officials also expressed their appreciation of Jordan's efforts to boost their country's stability and security.
Jordan voices support for Iraq’s security, stability | The Jordan Times