PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me sincere pleasure to welcome our respected guest, His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Today we held substantial talks and discussed a wide range of bilateral cooperation issues and international and regional questions of the greatest importance.
Our talks took place in a frank and friendly spirit that has become a good tradition during our regular meetings.
Above all, we analysed the situation and the prospects for developing our bilateral relations, including, of course, our trade and economic relations.
We discussed in particular improving the legal foundation for our relations and activating the Russian-Jordanian business partnership, including in the military-technical sector, all the more so as we have a good reason to build on in that His Majesty has just visited the MAKS-2005 aerospace salon and, as far as I understand, came away with a very good impression.
We gave particular attention during our talks to the problem of countering international terrorism.
We both share the view that this evil cannot be eradicated through the use of law enforcement methods alone. It is important to develop a broad dialogue between religions and civilisations and take action to address acute social problems. In this respect, we recalled the results of the “True Islam” conference that took place at the beginning of July in Amman on His Majesty’s initiative. The prominent Islamic theologians and authoritative religious figures who attended the conference clearly condemned terrorists’ attempts to use Islam’s spiritual values as cover for their inhuman crimes and selfish plans. Of course, any identification of the great world religion that is Islam with terrorism is unacceptable.
For its part, Russia remains committed to developing dialogue, including on the subject of combating terrorism, with the countries of the Islamic world and, of course, with the influential organisation that is the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
We also discussed Middle East peace settlement and the outlook for developing the Palestinian territories after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
The “Quartet” of international mediators, working together with all the interested parties, should make a firm continued effort to revive the peace process in the Middle East. We are pleased to note that Russia and Jordan share the same view on this issue.
We also discussed the situation in Iraq. We are aware of and support His Majesty’s efforts aimed at stabilising the situation in that country. For our part, we are also ready to take every necessary step to facilitate settlement of the problems in Iraq.
All the different ethnic and religious groups and political parties, including the leading opposition forces, should take part in the internal political dialogue in Iraq. This is all the more important today at a time when adoption of the country’s new constitution is on the agenda, as is the organisation of elections in accordance with resolution 1546 of the UN Security Council.
We also consider it necessary to draw up a timetable for a gradual withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq. We are well aware that many Iraqis continue to perceive the foreign troops in their country as an occupying force. This is simply the reality of the situation. Settling this issue would open the way for involving a considerable part of the armed Iraqi resistance in joining the process of rebuilding the state.
We are convinced of the need to keep the international community playing an active part in Iraqi settlement. In this respect, the format used for the international conference in Sharm-el-Sheikh has proved its worth and we think that organising another such international conference before the end of this year would provide impetus for normalising the situation.
In conclusion, I would once again like to thank His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan for his constructive and interested approach to the issues we discussed. Today we continued our consultations and we strengthened our relations. I would like to thank His Majesty for his visit and for the spirit of the discussion that came through during our talks today.
Thank you for your attention.
KING OF JORDAN ABDULLAH II: Thank you for your warm words, Mr President. I wanted to thank you for receiving us in your country this week.
I would like to note that the President and I have always had good, friendly and warm relations and today’s meeting between us was no exception.
This visit has provided us with an excellent opportunity to further develop our contacts. The good relations that exist between our countries’ governments and peoples are a source of pride and a great honour for us.
Economic relations with Russia are a very important factor for Jordan and we see many opportunities on the horizon for continuing our cooperation in this area, including through attracting private capital.
As the President said, we had the chance today to discuss a common threat that both our countries face – the threat of terrorism.
Our governments have longstanding experience of close cooperation in the fight against terrorism and we intend to continue this cooperation for as long as the terrorist threat exists.
Finally, as many of you know, an important event for our region took place this week, namely, Israel began its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
But this raises the more important question of what will happen next? This should not be a one-off measure but should become the first step in a lasting process.
We see Russia as one of the participants in the peace process in our region, a member of the “Quartet” and the country that will be presiding in the G-8. We place our hopes on cooperation between Russia, the European Union and the United States, and on your role as one of the leaders in the Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement process.
I would once again like to thank the President for his generous hospitality, warm reception and for the traditionally friendly relations that our two countries maintain. I have always met with a warm and friendly welcome in Russia. I am grateful for this and for your government’s support for efforts to further develop our bilateral cooperation. I would like to hope that I will have the chance to return your hospitality and be able to receive you in Jordan in the near future.
QUESTION: My question is both for you, Mr President, and for you, Your Majesty. You said that you discussed the situation in the Middle East during your talks, including the issue of settling boundaries. We can see that the situation in this respect is far from simple. Have you reached any new conclusions?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We think that the situation should develop according to the “Road Map” and we welcome Israel’s steps to withdraw its forces and settlements from the Gaza Strip. I personally think that Prime Minister Sharon is showing clear courage and consistency in going ahead with the decisions that have been made. What is important now is that the two sides not allow any extremist manifestations, any letting events get out of control. From the telephone conversation I had today with Chairman Abbas, the Palestinians are intent on working in just this spirit. As one of the co-sponsors of the Middle East peace process, Russia will therefore support both sides in their efforts to implement the “Road Map”.
ABDULLAH II: I can but confirm and support what President Putin has said. The situation is complex: both the Palestinians and the Israelis face many challenges, difficulties and problems. As the world community, we must continue to support the peace process and continue to help the Palestinians and the Israelis to implement the “Road Map”.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Of course, once the Israelis have withdrawn their forces, the Palestinian leadership must be in a position to be able to resolve security problems. His Majesty and I agree that the relevant assistance should be provided to develop the Palestinian security forces and authorities.
QUESTION: Mr President, you said that bilateral relations have been developing very well over recent years. In this respect I would like to know when the long-discussed agreement on further developing trade and economic relations between our countries will be signed?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We do indeed now have the task of converting our level of political cooperation and our numerous high economic-level contacts into a concrete business partnership. I might be not quite right in the details, but Jordan’s bilateral trade with the United States comes to around $1 billion; its trade with Saudi Arabia comes to around $370 million and its trade with China stands at around $500 million. We could achieve much higher bilateral trade figures. The current figure for our bilateral trade is just over $50 million. This is not very much at all. The first step towards improving this situation, of course, is to lay the necessary legal foundation.
You just mentioned one of the agreements that is to be part of this foundation – the agreement on trade and economic cooperation. We also need to settle the question of double taxation and conclude an agreement on mutual protection of capital and investment. I hope that this will all happen rapidly. His Majesty and I, at any rate, are willing to do all we can to encourage our experts to complete this work.
For its part, our government is ready to examine the possibility of making financial aid available to develop our bilateral ties. We are talking about a sum of hundreds of millions of dollars that would be made available in the form of loans with very attractive terms. Overall, work is progressing and it is progressing well. I hope that His Majesty’s visit to Russia will give a new boost to developing our relations.
QUESTION: I have another question for both leaders. Both you, Mr President, and you, Your Majesty, have spoken of the need to put an end to terrorists using the name of Islam as cover for their action. What steps can Russia and Jordan take together in this area?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: At one of our first meetings, His Majesty said to me that we in Russia and in Europe have found ourselves facing terrorism in the name of religion relatively recently, while the countries within the Muslim world have been fighting this phenomenon for more than 50 years now. We must, of course, unite our efforts on a bilateral basis within the international organisations in order to resolve this problem of immense importance for humanity – the fight against terrorism.
I would like to point out that the 16 million Muslims who live in Russia are not immigrants; they are Russian citizens and this is their homeland. They are not immigrants, and they are part of the Muslim world. First of all, I am grateful, therefore, for His Majesty’s support for Russia being given observer status in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Second, we know that we can draw on the knowledge of our Jordanian partners, on the authority and knowledge of moderate religious leaders and genuinely learned theologians in order to win the hearts and souls of our Muslim citizens and be a lot more convincing than we perhaps have been in the ideological battle against religious extremism and the combat against terrorism.
ABDULLAH II: Beginning from the middle of last year, we in the Muslim world have undertaken a whole series of important initiatives to activate the entire Arab world, the entire Muslim world in the fight against extremist forces in our religion. We organised a number of successful meetings and conferences, in particular, an important conference that took place in July, and we have for the first time been able to coordinate our action and organise cooperation between the eight principal schools of Islam.
We managed to unite the efforts of Islam’s leading figures to prevent terrorists and extremists from using Islam as cover for their activities, as cover for the terrorist acts they commit that cost the lives of innocent people. As we know, the unfortunate reality is that many terrorist acts are preceded by the issue of a fatwa, a religious edict, which the terrorists use as a pretext for their evil deeds. The religious councils that we have managed to gather together in the Muslim world aim to put an end to this practice.
As has already been noted, there is good cooperation between our countries and we, for our part, aim at ensuring that Muslims in different countries understand the sense of the Oman Message adopted at the conference in Oman. We think that, although we have a good level of political contact, our relations in the area of security, the way we help strengthen each other’s security and help protect each other is even more important. In this respect I can affirm that our countries have close cooperation that is translated into the most decisive action in the fight against terrorism and increasing security for both our countries.
QUESTION (for His Majesty): Will Russia play a part in logistic support for the peace process after the Israeli withdrawal? And a question for the President: what can Russia do to keep the peace process going during the subsequent stages of the settlement process?
ABDULLAH II: As was already said, Russia has been one of the co-sponsors of the Middle East peace process right from the beginning. Russia is a member of the “Quartet” and I would like to point out that the President has made great efforts towards settlement in the Middle East. Russia has done a great deal to establish contacts between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Russia is informed about all the developments in the region and has a good understanding of the difficulties facing both the Palestinians and the Israelis. In this respect, we are grateful to President Putin and to Russia for their firm position, firm commitment and consistent effort to develop the peace process. As I already said, we hope that Russia will continue to play this important, central and decisive role in the Middle East peace process. We hope that we will be able to settle this problem for once and for all.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The withdrawal of Israeli settlements and forces from the Gaza Strip is a very important step in the peace process and we see how difficult and painful a step it is for the Israeli public and the authorities.
But at the same time, this is only part of the “Road Map,” which also contains plans for further steps. We will work towards the objective of its implementation in full. But I think you will agree with me that we must also take the reality of the situation into account. Each step taken should be a step towards changing the situation for the better and not a step towards exacerbating the situation or provoking an escalation of violence.
We will continue our work in this area through international efforts and on the bilateral basis provided by Russia’s friendly ties with the Palestinian people and its improving and ever-stronger ties with Israel. We intend taking part in Mr Wolfensohn’s efforts to rebuild Palestine’s economic potential and develop its infrastructure. We are examining the question of what steps to take to strengthen and give a new foundation to the Palestinian security forces. All the steps we take will be carefully planned and considered and we will coordinate our action with all the participants in the settlement process so as to avoid any discord and ensure that our efforts go only towards improving the situation.
Thank you and all the best.