Armenian President Armen Sarkissian (R) and Jordan’s King Abdullah arrive at the presidential palace in Yerevan, February 11, 2020.

Jordan’s King in ‘Historic’ Visit to Armenia

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YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — Jordan’s King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein Al Hashimi, on his first visit to Armenia beginning on Tuesday, February 11, spoke of similarities between his country and Armenia, voiced support for closer bilateral ties and praised the centuries-old Armenian presence in the Middle East.

He also called for Armenian support for his position on the status of Jerusalem after holding separate talks with President Armen Sarkissian and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Both Armenian leaders described Abdullah’s first-ever visit to their country as “historic” during the talks that seemed to have focused on ways of boosting Armenian-Jordanian economic ties. Sarkissian was satisfied with the “wonderful discussions with His Majesty.”

“I’m very glad that … relations between our countries are reinvigorated and we have already concrete results,” Pashinyan told the Jordanian monarch at the start of their meeting.

“Our two countries and peoples have carved a niche for themselves in today’s modern world, all the while remaining true to their identities, their cultures and faiths,” Abdullah said in a speech delivered at the presidential palace in Yerevan later in the day. “And Jordan, much like Armenia, has made its human capital the main driver of its journey towards development. Our countries have much to gain from cooperating to capitalize on this promising potential.”

“Although this is our first official visit to your beautiful country, we feel we are among family, and in fact we are family,” he declared.

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Abdullah went on to lavish praise on Jordan’s Armenian community. “Thousands of Jordanians trace their roots back to Armenia,” he said. “They do honor to both of our countries and play vital roles in the arts, education, public service, business and much, much more. And they form the solid bedrock on which our friendship continues to grow and flourish.”

The community mainly consists of descendants of survivors of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey who had taken refuge in what is now Jordan. Sarkissian stressed that it was Abdullah’s great-great-grandfather, Emir Hussein bin Ali of Mecca, who urged Arabs to shelter them.

“I would like to bow to the great memory of your ancestor and your family and to tell you the thanks from my nation,” the president told Abdullah.

“Our joint history extends far beyond that,” the king said for his part. “Armenians in the Middle East are part of the oldest Christian community in the world. They are an integral part of our region’s past … and we look to work with you to make sure they continue to play such a role in shaping its present and creating its bright future.”

In that context, Abdullah pointed to the existence of an ancient Armenian quarter in Jerusalem and his religious custodianship of the city’s Muslim, Armenian and other Christian worship sites.

“Preserving the city’s identity and its legal status, as well as the historic status quo in relation to holy sites, Islamic and Christian alike, is going to be key,” he said. “So we look to Christian leaders and friends like you and around the world to work with us in safeguarding Jerusalem as a unifying city of peace.”

Jordan is reportedly concerned about an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan put forward by the United States. Amman has been particularly sensitive to any changes of status in Jerusalem after US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize it as Israel’s capital.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, left, with King Abdullah

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan received the king also. He said: ”Your Excellency, it is a great honor for me to see you in our country. This is a historic visit, your first visit to Armenia. And as we have discussed, not the last. We hope to see you many times in our country.

“Relations with Jordan are very important to us, as we generally see the Middle East and your country as strategic partners. I am very happy that the relations between our countries are intensifying. We have already specified the results, we have a few specific areas of mutual interest. I am also glad that a business delegation has come with you, and we are going to sign a specific document to improve our relations and make them more effective.”

He also thanked the king and his subjects for sheltering survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

Abdullah II replied: ”Your Excellency, thank you very much. As you said, we are very proud of the story our peoples have shared. I have been so warmly welcomed since my first visit to Armenia yesterday, and as you said, I hope this is one of my many visits. Our special friendship has been going on for many years, and I hope it will continue to be brighter and warmer. We are proud to have shared the story. We still have a lot to do together and I think you will agree. I am very optimistic and delighted with your reception.”

During the meeting the two discussed a number of issues related to the development of Armenian-Jordanian economic and humanitarian relations.

Pashinyan noted that Armenia has a favorable economic environment. He emphasized that the government of Armenia is interested in the involvement of Jordanian business and capital and that there are good prospects for cooperation in different sectors of the economy. He suggested that Armenia could become a good platform for Jordanian businessmen to enter the Eurasian Economic Union market with privileged conditions.

Abdullah II added that  his country’s government is also interested in developing trade and economic ties with Armenia and they are interested in co-operation in tourism, agriculture, information technologies and other fields.

The two also exchanged views on the events in the South Caucasus and the Middle East. The parties touched upon the negotiation process of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement and emphasized the importance of a negotiated settlement of the issue.

Abdullah II invited Pashinyan to Jordan on an official visit.

(RFE/RL and the Prime Minister’s office contributed to this report.)

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