INDIA AND JORDAN: TOWARDS A CLOSER PARTNERSHIP

Spotlight By AMBASSADOR ANIL TRIGUNAYAT (RETD.)

India Jordan

Trade and Economic relations remain strong. India has emerged as one of the major investors in the Hashemite Kingdom with $860 mn state of the art IFFCO-JPMC (JIFCO) phosphorus acid plant in the south of the country and almost 22 Indian owned textile factories in the special economic zones that have successfully kept the Jordanian export edge through its exceptional web of Free Trade Agreements with large of countries and regions.

After a gap of almost 17 years Jordan’s Foreign M i n i s t e r Ay m a n Safadi paid an offi cial visit to India on December 27-28, 2017 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart. The visit was preceded by another high level visit of Chief of Royal Court last year as well as holding of the Joint Commission at the level of Trade Ministers that previewed the whole gamut of bilateral relations. Although the high level exchanges between the two countries have been punctuated by long spells despite Jordan being one of the fi rst countries with which India established diplomatic relations immediately after independence, the relationship has grown from strength to strength. The landmark meeting between PM Modi and King Abdullah on the side-lines of the UNGA and first ever visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to Jordan in 2015 laid the new contours of cooperation and bridged the high level exchange deficit.

Trade and Economic relations remain strong. India has emerged as one of the major investors in the Hashemite Kingdom with $860 mn state of the art IFFCO-JPMC (JIFCO) phosphorus acid plant in the south of the country and almost 22 Indian owned textile factories in the special economic zones that have successfully kept the Jordanian export edge through its exceptional web of Free Trade Agreements with large of countries and regions. Indian companies had also constructed the famous Abdoun bridge by L&T and the state of the art Aqaba Phosphate Terminal commissioned by Afcons. India has also remained major trading partner of Jordan and the key market for its phosphates and potash exports. New areas of cooperation are being charted out. But as JFM also reiterated that there is tremendous potential that exists for diversifi cation in trade and investment between the two countries including ICT, Infrastructure, renewable energy etc. as well as trilateral initiatives in the ME region.

On the political level, India and Jordan have similarity of approaches on major issues. Jordan was on the forefront of the fi ght against ISIL (Daesh) and India having suffered from terrorism, especially from across the border, has been pursuing for a global definition and resolve to counter this menace. Both countries wish to further intensify the intelligence and CT cooperation. India has participated in Aqaba 3 process as well. The visit of FM Safadi took place in the backdrop of an unusual step by President Trump with regard to Jerusalem and his decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem which has put the Palestinian issue and protests again on the front burner. For Jordan, Palestine is the core issue and for King Abdullah, Jerusalem is sacrosanct since he is also the custodian of the third holiest Al Aqsa mosque located in the old city along with the other Christian sites. India has a clearly articulated policy on Palestine which has been respected by both Israel and Palestine. Hence, India taking a principled approach voted for the UNGA resolution on Jerusalem against President Trump’s ill-conceived declaration which was highly appreciated by the Arab world without overtly irritating Israel or the US for that matter, since India fi gures prominently in their foreign policy priorities. Given its just approach, most countries in the region do expect India to play a larger role in the MEPP. Hence FM Safadi articulated that “For us, the core issue remains the Palestinian-Israeli confl ict and there cannot be peace and stability in the region without a resolution to the confl ict on the basis of a two-state solution that would allow an independent sovereign Palestinian state with Occupied (East) Jerusalem as its capital, on the lines of the 1967 situation, and that would allow a peaceful Israel as well. We want every country to support this. India has always had a very clear position in favour of a just, lasting peace, and we encourage India to be more engaged and would like to see more of an Indian role [in the peace process].”

One of the main objectives of FM Safadi was to work on the details for the second visit of His Majesty King Abdullah II to India slated for February – March this year when several agreements are expected to be signed in the areas of minerals, textiles, energy and infrastructure fi elds that would further add to the existing institutional frameworks for focussed cooperation and will take the relationship to a new level.

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Diplomatist Magazine was launched in October of 1996 as the signature magazine of L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd, a contract publishing house based in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi, India, the National Capital.

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