King Abdullah II says Jordan has open channels with everyone in region

Monarch identifies the UAE, Egypt and Iraq as countries with which kingdom is building close ties

King Abdullah at a royal palace gathering in Amman, Jordan.  AFP
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Jordan has open channels with all players in the region and does not rely on relations with just one, King Abdullah II said on Sunday in rare public remarks on foreign policy.

The official news agency quoted the king as telling a meeting of former Jordanian prime ministers in Amman that Jordan was “sustaining its communication network and ties with everyone in the region and does not rely on one party”.

He said this policy aims to “diversify the choices” and achieve the kingdom's strategic goals. He identified Iraq, Egypt and the UAE as countries with which Jordan is building “foundations for political and economic co-operation”.

The king, who is 60, holds all significant powers in the kingdom of 10 million people and charts its foreign policy.

Jordan has sought to play a more assertive regional role in the last two years, having felt undermined by US policy that focused on promoting Arab normalisation with Israel.

Jordan has become more vocal in its criticism of Israel for its actions against the Palestinians.

A large proportion of Jordan's population are descendants of Palestinians who fled their homes when Israel was created in 1948.

The kingdom then administered the East Jerusalem and the West Bank until they were seized by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict.

In the past two years, Jordan has sought to assert custodianship rights over the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that sparked a war between Israel and Hamas in 2021 and came near to causing another this year.

King Abdullah, who met US President Joe Biden in Washington this month, said he expected “diplomatic moves in the coming phase”.

“Jordan will a part of them to support the causes of the region and to preserve its interests,” he said.

The kingdom has been strengthening ties with the UAE, which normalised relations with Israel in 2020, and has made overtures to Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi of Iraq.

Jordan's relations with Baghdad have been volatile since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and ushered in a series of governments led by prime ministers from Shiite religious parties supported by Iran.

Its relations with Saudi Arabia also cooled after the authorities in Amman jailed a Jordanian adviser to King Salman on sedition allegations. The adviser, economist Bassem Awadallah, denies the charges.

In a sign of possible improvement of ties with Riyadh, Saudi sources quoted by Reuters said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was expected to make a regional tour next month that will include Jordan.

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Updated: May 30, 2022, 11:03 AM