Jordan, Canada Agree To Take Ties To New Level

King Abdullah on Monday held a one-on-one meeting, followed by an expanded talks, with Governor General of Canada David Johnston at Al Husseiniya Palace.

The two leaders discussed bilateral relations and regional and international developments, according to a Royal Court statement.

At the beginning of the second meeting, He described the visit as important and timely to review challenges facing the region.

The Monarch thanked Canada for its support for the Kingdom to help it shoulder the burdens of the Syrian crisis and for receiving refugees in Canada.

Johnston expressed his happiness in visiting Jordan, noting that this is the first time a governor general of Canada visits the Kingdom, adding that there would be more visits in the future.

The meeting, which was attended by senior officials from both countries, focused on the importance of building on the outcome of His Majesty’s visit to Canada last month and the memoranda of understanding and agreements signed between the two countries there, especially the deals on increasing economic cooperation.

They discussed cooperation in the field of development and education, and means to encourage innovation, in addition to exchange of expertise.

The King highlighted investment opportunities available in the Kingdom, especially in the field of energy, mining, transportation and tourism, urging the Canadian private sector to benefit from those opportunities through economic partnerships with Jordanian counterparts.

He underlined the fact that such projects can take advantage of the Jordan-Canada free trade agreement (FTA), which went into force in 2012.

The discussions also covered the burdens on Jordan due to the Syrian refugee crisis. His Majesty reiterated a call on the international community to undertake its share of responsibility, as agreed on at the February London donor conference, and support refugee-hosting countries, mainly Jordan.

The two sides discussed efforts to combat terrorism, and also looked into the annual Canadian support for the Kingdom, which amounted to nearly $40 million at the end of October this year, the Royal Court said.

For his part, Johnston stressed his country’s interest to boost cooperation, especially in the movie and cinema industry and in the fields of vocational education and small and medium enterprises, in addition to empowering women to have a larger share in the labour market.

Canada is also interested in contributing to the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project (Red-Dead), the governor said.

After the talks, His Majesty held a lunch banquet in honour of Johnston and his wife.

Talks with government; deal signed

Also on Monday, Jordan and Canada held talks at the Prime Ministry, which focused on developing bilateral ties and the latest regional developments, especially the Syrian crisis and its repercussions on the Kingdom, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Following the discussions, Canadian Ambassador to Jordan Peter MacDougall and Higher Education Minister and acting Culture Minister Adel Tweisi signed an Audiovisual Co-production Treaty between the two countries, according to a statement issued by the Canadian embassy in Amman.

The deal, signed in the presence of Johnston and Prime Minister Hani Mulki, will allow producers to combine their creative, technical and financial resources to create audiovisual co-productions that will enhance knowledge and cultural sharing between the two countries.

Audiovisual projects co-produced under the treaty are given a national status in both Canada and Jordan, which makes producers eligible for national benefits in their own countries, such as funding programmes and tax incentives.

The agreement will also encourage cultural exchanges between the two countries, Petra added.

During the talks, Mulki voiced Jordan’s appreciation for Canada’s continuous support in the past few years, especially as Ottawa classified Jordan on the list of countries most deserving of Canadian development aid, in light of the impact of regional crises and the Syrian refugee influx on the country and its people, according to Petra.

The premier invited both countries’ private sectors to benefit from the FTA so as to help boost joint investments.

For his part, Johnston said that the delegation members’ talks with Jordanian counterparts focused on several fields related to security and stability in the region and support for refugees, in addition to cooperation in the fields of trade and education.

Several ministers and officials from both countries attended the talks.

Education, parliamentary cooperation

Also on Monday, Johnston visited the Queen Rania Teacher Academy (QRTA) and met with its CEO Haif Bannayan, who delivered a presentation on the five-year project “Scaling Up Teacher Professional Development”, being currently implemented with funds extended by the Global Affairs Canada.

The project started in 2015 and continues until 2019, according to a QRTA statement, which expects that by 2019, it will have trained over 30,000 teachers in more than 2,000 schools through its various programmes.

Launched in June 2009 under the patronage of Her Queen Rania, QRTA works to promote excellence in teacher education and policy deliberation in Jordan and throughout the region.

Senator Marouf Bakhit, first deputy Senate president, also met with Johnston and discussed with him bilateral cooperation, especially in the parliamentary field.

Bakhit commended Canada’s commitment to provide $1.6 billion in three years to areas affected by the Syrian crisis.