Well good morning. I’d like to begin by paying my respects to you, Your Majesty, and thank you for your visit. We have had the most productive discussions. I don’t think anybody can provide us with as much insight and wisdom on the challenges of your region than you do, sir.
It was over 40 years ago of course, in March 1976, Australia had the honour of hosting His Majesty King Hussein, your father and today we are welcoming you.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is one of our closest partners in the Middle East and you and your family have led your kingdom and your people with great wisdom in the midst of the most challenging region in the world.
We appreciate the very strong partnership between Australia and Jordan – based on mutual respect, common perspectives and a shared desire to contribute to stability and security. Our friendship, as we noted earlier, is very longstanding – a century old, going back to the Great Arab Revolt when Australian and Arab forces fought alongside each other in the lands that are now your Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
But we have said that our relationship couldn’t be stronger but we do keep strengthening it nonetheless. Today, we have marked a new chapter with the signing of the Joint Declaration on Enhanced Cooperation. We have a commitment to elevate our relationship to an even higher level and to deepen our already strong ties.
The declaration expands cooperation across the breadth of our partnership. We will seek opportunities to expand our economic ties, we will build on our political partnership by holding regular ministerial meetings and we will continue to strengthen our already very strong security, intelligence and counter-terrorism cooperation, together with the very strong links between our respective defence forces.
And, of course, as we discussed last night with our ministers, we will reaffirm our close partnership in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq and Syria, so many of whom Jordan is caring for as a generous host to hundreds of thousands of refugees.
We are committing $220 million over three years to respond to the Syrian crisis, in addition to the $213 million provided in humanitarian assistance since 2011.
I am pleased to record that we have signed another important document today, a memorandum of understanding on countering money laundering and terrorism financing.
As key members of the counter Daesh coalition, Jordan and Australia stand together in rejecting those who seek to impose their perverse world views on others through division and violence. This memorandum of understanding is an example of the practical steps our governments are taking to confront and defeat the scourge of global terrorism.
Your Majesty, for over 17 years, you personally have been a force for stability and modernisation in your country and in the region.
As I outlined in my national security statement in November 2015, strengthening our cooperation with Jordan is an important and vital step in helping ensure the development of a more stable and secure Middle East. There is no more reliable or indispensable partner for Australia in the Middle East than Your Majesty. You have been instrumental in deepening our engagement and our cooperation, so we thank you, Your Majesty, for your dedication over many years, for peace, for security and for strengthening the already very strong ties, a century old, between our two great nations.
HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH II BIN AL-HUSSEIN:
Prime Minister, thank you very much and again, on behalf of myself, Queen Rania and my entire delegation, I wanted to thank you for your very kind words of hospitality and the warmth that we have all been received with here in Australia by you, your Government and the Australian people. I really am truly delighted to be here on my first visit to this great, wonderful country and people.
As you mentioned, sir, this comes at a very interesting time in history where we celebrate long ties. You have mentioned that our country is honouring the Centennial of The Great Arab Revolt where we had the honour and pleasure to see Anzac troops fight alongside Arab forces.
We are very keen to continue to deepen the relationship between our two countries with all the challenges that we are facing and I have no doubt that we will continue to move in a warm and brotherly direction.
You did mention, sir, the signing of the Joint Declaration of Enhanced Cooperation and all of the different sectors that that has covered. But this also comes at a time of close coordination on an international level at the UN Security Council where Jordan and Australia co-hosted and authored three resolutions on humanitarian access to Syria. And there the international community must continue to seek ways to tackle the unprecedented refugee crisis resulting from the Syrian conflict.
We in Jordan have done more than our fair share in shouldering the burden on behalf of the world. However, again here I would truly like to thank you, sir, and the people of Australia for the contributions and support for its pledges at the London Conference and the resettlement of almost 12,000 refugees, the majority of which will be relocated from Jordan. This is a tremendous moral responsibility – that comes as no surprise to us that it’s your country and your people.
The refugee influx has strained our budget and infrastructure. This is why again, I am here to thank you and show our gratitude for the support that you have extended to us.
Beyond the humanitarian impact, I want to emphasise that efforts must continue to achieving an inclusive political solution involving all components of society. As long as such solutions remain elusive across the region, sectarian conflicts and violence will continue to fester and extremist groups will remain a threat to global security. Therefore, we must not forget the issues of the region are connected and present a rallying cry for extremism. At the core of which lies the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The lack of a peace process after decades of conflict and continued provocations in Jerusalem and its holy sites remains a driver for extremist forces in our region and actually quite beyond.
We need to move beyond the process and Jordan stands ready to assist in any way. I am quite sure that as we move into 2017, Australia and Jordan will work hand in hand in being able to deal with these challenges not only in our region but globally.
In conclusion, sir, thank you again for the wonderful hospitality you showed last night to myself, to Rania and our delegation. I look forward in being able to host you, and I hope, your family and your Government in Jordan whenever you get the chance and again hand in hand, friends forever and I look forward to seeing you in our part of the world.
Thank you so much.