The King of Jordan and President of Turkey marked 70 years of diplomatic relations between their countries by discussing regional issues in Amman yesterday.
A joint statement by King Abdullah II and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they “discussed efforts to advance peace, stability, and progress in the region, as well as the latest developments in the Middle East” and “emphasised the importance of solidifying their two countries’ economic ties and discussed ways to increase bilateral trade and investments”.
The pair agreed on the importance of reaching a political solution to the Syrian conflict through the Geneva process that facilitates the return of refugees, upholds the aspirations of the Syrian people and preserves Syria’s unity. They both stressed the need for the international community to support neighbouring countries with the economic and social pressures of housing Syrian refugees. There are nearly 3m Syrian refugees in Turkey and half a million in Jordan.
The two leaders discussed the need for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to resolve what they called “the core issue of the Middle East,” which they said should be based on the 2002 Saudi-lead Arab Peace Initiative. Israeli leaders have never fully embraced the plan but Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said it “contains positive elements that could help revive constructive negotiations” when he joined the Israeli government in 2016.
Abdullah and Erdogan criticised the Israeli handling of the recent Temple Mount crisis. At the time, Erdogan accused Israel of attempting to change the status quo on the site at the time, saying: “What is being done now is using the fight against terrorism as a pretext to take al-Aqsa Mosque from the hands of Muslims. There is no other explanation”.
An outbreak of violence in Jerusalem followed the installation of metal detectors at the Temple Mount by Israel, in response to the killing of two Israeli police officers outside the Temple Mount compound by three Israeli Arabs.