Jordan's King Abdullah and Boris Johnson hold talks amid Iran tensions

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets King Abdullah II of Jordan outside 10 Downing Street in London on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 07 August 2019

Jordan's King Abdullah and Boris Johnson hold talks amid Iran tensions

  • The king and Johnson discussed Jordan’s role in 'maintaining regional stability'
  • Talks take place amid high tensions with Iran over attacks on shipping in the Arabian Gulf

LONDON: King Abdullah II of Jordan met the new British prime minister on Wednesday as the UK seeks to shore up relations with one of its strongest Arab allies amid heightened tensions with Iran. 

The meeting with Boris Johnson in London also came as the UK nears a crunch Brexit deadline with a withdrawal from the European Union without a deal increasingly likely. 

London is looking to secure and boost trade ties with markets away from Europe to soften the blow and Jordan is seen as a reliable, if small, trade partner. 

The king was greeted warmly by Johnson outside 10 Downing Street ahead of the talks and a working lunch.

 

 

“The leaders reflected on the close bilateral relationship and longstanding friendship between our countries,” a Downing Street spokesperson said. “The Prime Minister welcomed the King’s progress in delivering economic reforms and urged continued momentum.”

The king and Johnson also discussed Jordan’s role in “maintaining regional stability” and the kingdom’s hosting of Syrian refugees.

The Jordanian state news agency said the meeting would cover “the deep-rooted, strategic relations between Jordan and the UK, and current regional developments.”

Jordan also hopes to secure further investment for its fragile economy, which is going though tough austerity measures as part of an International Monetary Fund program.

In February, London hosted a conference attended by the king to boost investment in his country. During the event the UK increased its aid and support for Jordan.

But the escalating tensions with Iran in the Gulf, including the seizure of a British oil tanker last month, were expected to dominate discussions.

Yossi Mekelberg, professor of international relations at Regent’s University London and an associate fellow at Chatham House, said the situation with Iran was a high priority for both sides but that Jordan was often cautious and pragmatic when there is a major crisis.

“They (Jordan) wouldn’t like to see a deterioration in relations and a war in the Gulf, on the other hand, they are recognizing now that there is a real danger of this happening, there is danger of Iran developing nuclear weapons.

“I think Hezbollah and the Iranian forces on its doorsteps in Syria is another issue that doesn’t make Jordan very happy, it’s a cause of worry for Jordan to.”

The two nations were also expected to discuss the conflict between Israel and Palestine and a US peace plan, which has angered Palestinians and drawn consternation from Jordan.

“The king will probably point out to the prime minister that the current impasse is dangerous and it’s not going to last and this might affect the stability of the Hashemite Kingdom,” Mekelberg said.

The UK and Jordan have historic ties and the royal family is closely connected to the UK. The King’s mother was British and he studied at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

 


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 16 September 2019

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLIGHT

Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.