Good afternoon, everybody. It is a
great pleasure for me to once again welcome His Majesty King Abdullah
of Jordan, as well as his delegation.
We have very few countries around the world that are better friends
and better partners than the Jordanians. The fact that they are in such
a difficult neighborhood makes the relationship between our two countries
that much more important.
And so I want to publicly express my appreciation for His Majesty’s
leadership not only in forging a strong bilateral relationship, but
also all the multilateral efforts that he is engaged in to encourage
peace and prosperity during what has been an extraordinary time.
The last time we met, the face of the region was very different. Since
that time, you’ve seen new governments emerging in Egypt, in Libya;
transitions taking place and a new government in Tunisia; transitions
taking place in Yemen; and now obviously great volatility in Syria.
Throughout this period we consulted closely with the Jordanians, and
we value the advice and the thoughtful leadership that His Majesty provides.
We spent a great deal of time discussing a number of key subjects.
We talked about the importance of us continuing to consult closely together
to encourage the Palestinians and the Israelis to come back to the table
and negotiate in a serious fashion a peaceful way forward. And the Jordanians
have taken great leadership on this issue, and we very much appreciate
their direction on this issue.
We discussed as well the extraordinary efforts that have been made
by His Majesty, as well as the Prime Minister, in guiding political
reform inside of Jordan. I think His Majesty has been ahead of the curve
in trying to respond to the legitimate concerns and aspirations, both
politically and economically, of the Jordanian population. And so we
have said that we want to be as helpful as we can in encouraging this
ongoing reform process that’s taking place.
We also talked about a number of regional issues, including Iraq and
Iran, but uppermost on our minds right now is the issue of Syria. His
Majesty was the first Arab leader to publicly call on President Assad
to step down, in the face of the terrible brutality we’ve been
seeing inside of Syria.
I want to thank him for his willingness to stand up. As a consequence,
Jordan has been part of an overall Arab League effort to encourage this
sort of peaceful transition inside of Syria that is needed.
Unfortunately, we’re continuing to see unacceptable levels of
violence inside that country, and so we will continue to consult very
closely with Jordan to create the kind of international pressure and
environment that encourages the current Syrian regime to step aside
so that a more democratic process of transition can take place inside
Finally, Jordan, just like the rest of the world, has been grappling
with a very difficult economic environment, and we are proud to have
been able to provide some timely assistance in areas like food security
this week. I think wheat from the United States will be arriving that
will help to make sure that there’s bread in Jordan.
But there’s more work to do. And so through a wide range of bilateral
efforts, including the Millennium Challenge grant and other mechanisms,
what we’re trying to do is encourage entrepreneurship, market-based
reforms, small business and medium-sized businesses developing and prospering
inside of Jordan. And we pledge to continue to work in strong partnership
with His Majesty to make sure that all the people of Jordan have the
kind of opportunity that they deserve.
So, generally speaking, our bilateral relationship could not be stronger.
And I want to thank, once again, His Majesty for being not only a leader
in the region but also being a great friend of the United States.
Mr. President, thank you very much. It’s
obviously a great honor for me and my delegation to be back here in
Washington. We so much appreciate the historical support that we always
get from our friends in the United States to Jordan’s challenges.
And again, our personal friendship, which is very, very strong, has
allowed us to look at the challenges that the Israelis and Palestinians
face, as you just mentioned.
Although this is still in the very early stages, we have to keep our
fingers crossed and hope that we can bring the Israelis and Palestinians
out of the impasse that we’re facing. We’re in coordination
on a regular basis with the President, as well as with his administration.
We’re very, very grateful to the economic support that you’re
showing Jordan in this very difficult time. As we move into political
reform, obviously the economy and the situation that challenges the
livelihood of Jordanians is very, very important as we move forward.
But we are very, very optimistic. We had the opportunity to talk about
the full impact with the President this afternoon.
So, again, sir, wonderful to be back. We will be in close consultation
with you on all these issues. And thank you for your kind words and
your wonderful support to our country.