Egypt and Jordan co-ordinate before Biden inauguration

Abdel Fattah El Sisi met Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman as Middle East peace talks show signs of return

Powered by automated translation

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II discussed regional developments in Amman on Monday, state media said.

The two leaders are seeking foreign policy co-ordination before US president-elect Joe Biden takes office in Washington this week.

The two men had “expanded talks” at a royal palace on the outskirts of Amman about bilateral ties and “regional issues of mutual concern”, the official Egyptian media said.

The two have praised the normalisation of relations last year between some Arab states and Israel, despite Palestinian objections.

They have also responded to gestures by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi for a rapprochement since he took office in May.

There have been regular meetings between the Baghdad, Cairo and Amman governments.

Energy and economic deals with Iraq have been partly revived, despite Egyptian and Jordanian concerns about Iran’s influence over its neighbour.

Mr Al Kadhimi is a former intelligence chief supported by the US.

King Abdullah and Mr El Sisi talked about “expanding mechanisms for Jordanian-Egyptian-Iraqi co-operation”, the official Jordanian news agency said.

A handout picture released by the Jordanian Royal Palace on January 18, 2021 shows Jordanian King Abduallah II (C) and Crown Prince Hussein (R) meeting with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the capital Amman.  - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / JORDANIAN ROYAL PALACE / YOUSEF ALLAN" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Jordanian King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Hussein meeting Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in the capital Amman. AFP

The two welcomed this month’s Gulf Co-operation Council summit in Saudi Arabia as boosting Arab unity, the agency said.

The summit capped reconciliation between Qatar and three Gulf states, along with Egypt.

The king received Mr El Sisi at the Marka military airport. Both countries are allied with Washington and are large recipients of US aid.

Jordanian officials have made it clear that they are looking forward to the Biden administration after four years of what they regard as an overly ideological foreign policy under Mr Trump, which was tilted sharply towards Israel.

Mr Biden will be inaugurated on January 20.

Although containing the coronavirus in the US is expected to be the primary concern, he is likely to continue a tradition of meeting an Arab leader early in his term.

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab countries that have formal peace treaties with Israel.

They joined Germany and France last week in sending a thinly veiled message to Mr Biden.

The foreign ministers of the four countries said they were ready to work with Washington to “advance the Middle East peace process towards a just, comprehensive and lasting peace”.

Of more immediate concern to Jordan and Egypt has been internal Palestinian political problems.

The West Bank, controlled by the Palestinian Authority, was under Jordanian administration before 1967. Egypt has also long-standing ties to the Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Both countries are keen not to see an expansion of Hamas, especially after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last week scheduled elections. They would be the first polls in 15 years.

Mr Abbas in Ramallah last week met Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and Jordan’s intelligence chief, Ahmad Hassani.

Arab media said the three men discussed the Palestinian elections. Polls are scheduled for May 22 and August 31, and a presidential vote on July 31.

The scheduling of elections followed months of talks between Mr Abbas's representatives and the Iranian-backed Hamas.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since defeating Mr Abbas’s Fatah movement in a brief civil war in 2007.