AMMONNEWS - His Majesty King Abdullah II on Tuesday held talks at the Elysee Palace with French President Francois Hollande on Jordanian-French ties and political developments in the region, including the escalating crisis in Syria.
The King congratulated the new French leader on his election win, hailing Paris' continued support of Jordan as it seeks to achieve sustainable development and carry out mega projects in key sectors, particularly energy, transport and water.
King Abdullah pointed to France's international role as a European key player in finding a just settlement to the Palestinian issue and intensifying efforts to help the Palestinians and Israel to return to direct negotiations to solve all final status issues towards setting up an independent Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, as stipulated by international legitimacy resolutions.
On Syria, the King said Jordan is concerned about the current escalation and rising violence and its repercussions on regional states.
He said Jordan believed in a political exit from the crisis and backs United Nations and Arab league envoy Kofi Annan's efforts to stop the bloodshed and protect Syria's unity, stressing that the situation warranted a collective Arab and international effort.
The King and Hollande also discussed the impact of Arab Spring revolutions on the region's future and economic challenges facing its people, and the King stressed that the revolts should be exploited to achieve a positive outcome for the people.
His Majesty spoke about steps Jordan had taken to accelerate comprehensive political and economic and social reform that enables Jordanians to move into a new era to pursue the process of building, modernization and development after putting in place legislation regulating political life made necessary by "historic" constitutional amendments, particularly the elections law.
King Abdullah said the countdown had effectively begun to hold parliamentary elections in Jordan later this year according to the new electoral law that became valid this week, and for the first time in the Kingdom's history, the polls will be conducted under the supervision and management of an independent elections commission "in a way to take reform from the theoretical phase into real implementation." Hollande emphasised the deep friendship between France and Jordan, expressing his desire to further enhance the partnership in political, economic, academic, scientific and cultural spheres.
He said he appreciated Jordan's response to the demands of its people despite surrounding conditions, voicing his support of the Kingdom to bolster its key strategic role in the region and prospects to achieve peace and stability.
During the talks, attended by senior Jordanian and French officials, Hollande valued Jordan's attachment to the peace process and its efforts to resume Palestinian-Israeli dialogue to arrive at a negotiated solution to the conflict.
A statement issued by the French presidency at the end of the talks condemned the bloodshed in Syria and reiterated support for Annan's mission and implementation of a peace plan adopted by a meeting on Syria held in Geneva on Saturday.
It recognized Jordan's participation in a Friends of Syria meeting in Paris on July 6 and stressed support of the Kingdom that had to bear burdens by hosting thousands of Syrian refugees as a result of the crisis in their country.
Hollande also said Paris, in the context of bilateral ties and in the framework of the European Union and the G8 Deauville Partnership, backed comprehensive reform in Jordan, expressing satisfaction with Jordan's decision to assume the co-presidency of the Union for the Mediterranean, which he said would devote the Kingdom's efforts to carry out tangible projects that would meet the needs of the region.
Upon his arrival at the Elysee, His Majesty was accorded an official reception as he reviewed an honour guard.
The presidency statement said France would support Jordan's energy sector and had allocated a €150 million loan for that purpose, the first of which will be secured soon.
France has one of the biggest European investment in Jordan, mainly in the communications, water and infrastructure sectors. His Majesty, who arrived in Paris yesterday, also discussed ways of cementing ties and the political situation in the region with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, referring to existing prospects to enhance ties in economic and investment fields with private sector involvement.
Ayrault commended the King's relentless efforts to bring peace in the Middle East and his leadership of the reform effort, hailing the Kingdom's ability to contribute to maintaining the momentum in the peace process despite the rapid regional developments and reiterating France's economic support of the Kingdom.
His Majesty also discussed current political challenges in the Middle East and Arab Spring ramifications with President of the Jordanian-French Parliamentary Friendship Committee in the French senate, Christian Kamrrman.
The King also gave a briefing on milestones Jordan had taken to realise comprehensive reform and expand political participation, namely constitutional amendments and political legislation, noting the key role of Jordanian youth to forge ahead with reform and build a better future for the country.
Kamrrman told Petra and Jordan television that her committee would work with the new French President to support Jordan's reform enterprise and offer aid in energy and development fields.