Hillary Clinton and Nasser Judeh upbeat about peace process
AMMAN, Jordan (Press Release)– U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh met with the news media on Thursday to discuss the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
His Majesty King Abdullah the II had very productive conference and talks with Secretary Clinton earlier today. The talks, as you would all expect, focused on developments pertaining to the ongoing direct negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis that began in Washington on September 2nd and resumed in Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem in the past two days. His Majesty reiterated Jordan’s firm, unwavering commitment to exert every effort to ensure the success of these negotiations and their fruitful conclusion with an agreed upon timeframe and the realization of the two-state solution whereupon independent, sovereign, territorially contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in security, peace, good neighborly relations, cooperation, and integration with Israel and the other countries of the region within a regional context that also leads to the achievement of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on the basis of internationally agreed upon terms of reference for Middle East peace and particularly the Arab Peace Initiative.
We are encouraged by the focused and concentrated course of direct negotiations thus far. President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu have met several times since the resumption of these direct talks on the 2nd of September. Secretary Clinton, who has presently attended several of these meetings herself with the two leaders, stated yesterday that the two sides have already delved into negotiations regarding all the core issues. And these core issues are Jerusalem, refugees, borders, security, and water. And of course, there is much discussion on settlements.
If you remember, Madam Secretary, many times when we have met in the past, we have spoken of the need to fast-track and pay special emphasis to borders and security, which may, in themselves, open the doors for a resolution of the – all points of contention.
As you all know, and needless to say, all these core issues are related to Jordan and its interests, and therefore we are happy that we are engaging with our friends on all fronts on this issue. And we are doing all that we can to ensure that this focused and concentrated engagement continues with a view of successfully concluding the negotiations and reaching agreement within one year.
We are grateful to President Obama, to Secretary Clinton, Senator Mitchell and his team for their relentless efforts, unshakable commitment, firm resolve, and deep engagement that contributed to the resumption of direct negotiations. We trust that this active engagement will continue and intensify as the leadership role of the United States in this endeavor is pivotal for its success, notwithstanding the fact that the parties themselves are the ones who eventually have to reach agreement. Nevertheless, the essential role of the United States in encouraging the parties and its continued active engagement in assisting them to surmount any obstacles is paramount. And on our behalf in Jordan and as His Majesty the King has stated, we will do our full share of the needed encouragement for the parties to arrive at an agreement and that the current negotiations will bring tangible progress and meaningful traction expeditiously and won’t become another open-ended process.
His Majesty the King stressed in his remarks during the event hosted by President Obama to launch direct negotiations in Washington that peace has eluded us for so long and that we must succeed this time in realizing the two-state solution and achieving comprehensive peace. The onus is on all of us to ensure that this endeavor succeeds, to make history and deliver the long-awaited peace and its dividends to the countries and peoples of the entire Middle East and to the world at large, which is united in its view that realizing the two-state solution and achieving comprehensive peace is a vital global interest and not only an interest for the countries and peoples of the region.
Goodwill, strong leadership, and matching words with action, and judging action rather than just words, is needed on the part of the parties to ensure success. Desisting from all provocative unilateral action and ensuring, Madam Secretary – and I think I speak on behalf of both of us – ensuring that nothing that is done or said derails this commitment and this effort. Success is very much contingent upon resurrecting mutual confidence and restoring faith on both sides of the divide.
On bilateral relations, I would like to say that this strategic relationship between us gets stronger by the day. We thank the United States for its support for Jordan on all levels. In my most recent meeting with the Secretary in Washington a couple of weeks ago, or just under a couple of weeks ago, we made serious headway on a range of issues. Particularly, I mentioned the nuclear cooperation agreement which is under discussion and hopefully nearing the end of that discussion, and we thank the United States for its strong and firm support for Jordan on that front.
And I think today in the meeting with His Majesty, the Secretary had some good news for Jordan, but I’ll let the Secretary talk about that. And I would just like to say, Madam Secretary, that – Hillary, if I may call you, you have many friends here in Jordan. You are no stronger to Jordan. You have people who admire you, admire your work and your commitment to peace. Welcome on this short visit, and I hope that the next one will be longer. Thank you, Madam Secretary. Please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so very much. It is a great pleasure for me to be here not only with a colleague and counterpart foreign minister, but a friend. I have had an extraordinarily close and productive working elationship with Nasser Judeh. We have spent many hours talking about issues between our two countries in the region and indeed across the world. And I want personally to thank you for your constructive, constant contributions to all of the difficult issues that we are dealing with.
And so it is a pleasure to be back in Amman. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to meet with His Majesty King Abdullah II and the great pleasure of being hosted by the King and Queen for a private lunch, where we had a chance both to catch up personally but also to delve into the issues that Nasser has referenced.
The United States values our strong, close relationship, our very important partnership with Jordan. It is rooted in respect and common purpose. And today, I am very pleased to announce that yesterday a new Millennium Challenge Corporation compact was voted on that will invest more than $275 million in sustainable development here in Jordan. We worked very hard on this, and it was in partnership with the Jordanian Government that we looked at the needs that the people of Jordan have. We consulted broadly, outside even the Jordanian Government, with the private sector, with academics, experts, and others. And constantly, we heard, “Help Jordan deal with the water and waste water issues that affect people across the country.”
So this compact will help rehabilitate the water supply network, improve waste water collection and irrigation, and expand a key waste water treatment plant. This investment will create jobs for the people of Jordan, so it has the added benefit of not only building infrastructure that will help people in their homes, in their businesses, and provide a base for further economic development, but put people to work right now. And at the end, more than one million Jordanians will be supplied with safe and reliable access to clean drinking water for the very first time.
I want to thank the Government of Jordan for its close cooperation. These were highly technical decisions because they require a lot of expertise about what will work, and we could never have reached the decision to make this commitment without the guidance and leadership of Jordan.
We make this investment because we care about the people of Jordan. We make this investment because we believe investing in Jordan is good for the region and for the world. Jordan goes way above and beyond the call to duty. There’s a saying that Jordan punches above its weight. It may not be a huge population, but it has a commitment to excellence in so many areas.
Jordan has continued to help build a stable, sovereign, and self-reliant Iraq, and I want to thank the government and people of Jordan for the assistance that you give to Iraqi refugees. I know that that was a difficult responsibility to accept, but I thank you for carrying it forward.
I also thank the government and people of Jordan for your efforts on behalf of peacekeeping missions around the world, where Jordan has proven time and time again to be a force for peace and progress.
And of course, as Nasser said, Jordan is a crucial partner working to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and bring a comprehensive peace to the Middle East. We were honored to host King Abdullah II in Washington as these talks got underway, and I want to publicly thank him, as I privately have, for his contributions both to the resumption of direct negotiations and to the constructive beginning that has occurred. Jordan’s steadfast support for this process is essential. And today, His Majesty and I discussed ongoing negotiations and I expressed my confidence that Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas can make the difficult decisions necessary to resolve all of the core issues within one year.
Ever since September 2nd, despite the fact that I have known both of these men for many years, I have spent hours and hours with them and watched them interact with each other. I’ve watched them talk and listen to each other. They are serious about this effort. They are committed and they have begun to grapple with the hard but necessary questions. I am convinced that this is the time and these are the leaders who can achieve the result we all seek: two states for two peoples, living in peace and security.
I am well aware there are many skeptics and doubters, and I appreciate the concerns that many throughout the region have. But I ask: What is the alternative? What is the alternative for the Palestinian people, who deserve to have their aspirations fulfilled in a sovereign, independent, viable state of their own? And what is the alternative for Israel, who asks that they get the security that they are seeking so that they can live side by side with their Palestinian neighbors?
We believe that not only is it important to pursue the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, but a comprehensive regional peace, the vision that is at the heart of the Arab Peace Initiative. And Nasser and I have spent a lot of time talking about the remarkable document that the Arab Peace Initiative is. I’m not sure many Arabs nor many Israelis have read it, and I would commend to you, particularly those of you in the media, read this document that was begun as a wholly Arab initiative. It was led by, it was written by, it was promulgated by Arab leaders. And it holds out the very promise that we seek.
And also, we are seeking to determine what direction we can head in order to pursue peace between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon. To this end, Senator Mitchell is on his way for consultations in Damascus and Beirut. We believe that progress toward regional peace will support and give confidence to the direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and also bring peace to those countries as well.
Now, I hope that we keep in mind what is possible, because I think peace is possible. And I also think peace is necessary. I will always remember watching the late King Hussein as he signed a treaty that ended decades of war with Israel. That was a historic achievement that continues to inspire me. And under the leadership of King Abdullah II, Jordan has continued to demonstrate its willingness to make difficult decisions in the name of peace that will lead to stability and security.
So with the commitment of an Israeli prime minister and a Palestinian president who both embrace the goal of a two-state solution, peace is once again within our reach. But it is really going to be up to all of us. The leaders may meet in the room and discuss these issues, the negotiators may debate around the table, but peace only comes from the people themselves. And I would ask that all of the people of this region do what you can to promote the possibility and then the reality of peace.
So again, let me thank Jordan and particularly my friend, the Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, for your leadership and your active involvement in the pursuit of this important goal – important for Jordan, for the Palestinian people, Israel, the United States, and all the world who cares about what we are achieving and attempting to accomplish here today. Thank you all very much.
Preceding provided by the U.S. State Department