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.

 


Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

Updated 9 min 38 sec ago

Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

  • Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018

TEHRAN: Iraq’s foreign minister arrived Saturday in Tehran for bilateral talks with senior Iranian officials, according to the state-run news agency.
IRNA reported that Fuad Hussein planned to meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani, in what marked his first visit to the Iranian capital.
Zarif visited Baghdad in mid-July, when he met with Hussein and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. It was Zarif’s first visit to Iraq since a US airstrike in January killed a top Iranian general, Qassim Soleimani, outside Baghdad’s international airport. The strike catapulted Iraq to the brink of a US-Iran proxy war that could have destabilized the Middle East.
After Zarif’s trip, the Iraqi premier visited Iran in July.
The report did not elaborate on the main reasons behind the top Iraqi diplomat’s two-day trip to Tehran.
Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018 after pulling the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Last year, Iran’s exports to Iraq amounted to nearly $9 billion, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday. It said the two nations will discuss increasing the amount to $20 billion.
Before the current global pandemic, some 5 million Iranian pilgrims annually brought in nearly $5 billion visiting Iraq’s Shiite holy sites.
Iran has seen the worst outbreak in the region, with more than 443,000 thousand confirmed cases and at least 25,300 deaths.
A news website affiliated with Iranian state TV, yjc.ir, reported that Iran canceled all its flights to Iraqi cities until the religious holiday of Arbaeen, due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The holiday marks the end of the forty days of mourning that follow annually on the death anniversary of the seventh-century Muslim leader Hussein, who was killed at the Battle of Karbala during the tumultuous first century of Islam’s history.
Iran fought an eight-year war with Iraq that killed nearly 1 million people on both sides, after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded in the early 1980s.