02/20/2015 10:13 AM EST
Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh
Secretary of State
February 20, 2015
SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh is one of my most frequent interlocutors. He has been a partner now with me for two years and with our country for many years. He’s the longest serving foreign minister in the history of Jordan, and he has done an enormous amount to help us advance our partnership, and it is a partnership. We just signed an MOU a few days ago for a billion dollars a year for the next three years in our aid and assistance to Jordan, which is a reflection of the very, very key role that Jordan is playing in terms of many efforts in the Middle East: the counter-ISIL/Daesh effort, our initiatives with respect to Middle East peace, Palestinian-Israeli relations, security, counterterrorism, and of course, Syria – the efforts at the moment to deal with the challenges of terrorism emanating from Syria.
So Jordan is also feeling more of the consequences of this disruption in the Middle East than almost any other country. They have well over a million, maybe million and a half refugees in their country who have come out of Syria. It’s a distortion in their economy and presents enormous challenges internally. So we simply could not find a country that has been more willing to be a good standup, get-the-job-done partner than the Kingdom of Jordan.
And I want to express on behalf of all Americans our outrage, our horror at the brutal, horrendous, medieval burning of the Jordanian pilot, Captain al-Kasasbeh, simply reinforcing in all of us our commitment to destroy ISIL ultimately and to stand together in partnership against this kind of mindless violence. So we have our challenges, but we could not have a better partnership in the effort to meet those challenges and are very grateful to King Abdullah of Jordan for his commitment to this effort and to the many, many interventions that Nasser and I have had together. Thank you, my friend.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, my dear friend, John. You are always so kind, and your hospitality is always so warm, and your friendship to Jordan, to His Majesty is a friendship that we cherish at the personal level and also the friendship that we have with your great country across the world. And every time I’m here at the State Department, I’m always reminded – I’ll remind myself to say that this is a relationship that is not just a partnership, but a true friendship with a commonality of interest, common challenges, a shared history, and a shared commitment to meet the challenges that we face together, not just in our region, but around the world with commitment and resolve.
And this renewed commitment, Mr. Secretary, particularly after your kind and warm sentiments regarding our brave, young pilot, Captain Moaz al-Kasasbeh, and the way you described it very accurate – a brutal, barbaric act by a bunch of terrorists who do not belong to our civilization or the world as we know it today, and certainly do not belong to any religion or any culture even though they try to distort the image of our great religion and its noble message. But this brutal act has multiplied our resolve to fight this evil and to eradicate it, and we are working together with you and with many of our friends and allies around the world.
I’m here, Mr. Secretary, to attend what was a very important function yesterday, the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, and all the preparations that were made by Secretary Kerry himself and the State Department, as well as the presence of the President himself yesterday morning and his words of wisdom regarding the roadmap ahead of us in this fight that we’re all in.
But I’m also here as a follow-up to His Majesty King Abdullah’s visit to Washington earlier this month and his visit to Washington two months before that, and I think the frequency of these visits is reflective of the special relationship that we have with the United States of America. We cannot thank you enough for your support for Jordan, to Jordanians, especially in difficult times. You are absolutely right, when we have to deal with the challenge of an increase of 21 percent to our population in the span of 18 months, no country, regardless of political or economic might, can cope with something like that. The international goodwill that we are receiving, an outpour of it, really has helped us get through this thus far, but it’s way short of what’s needed to deal with that. Your country, the United States of America, our friends here, have been so supportive and we very much appreciate that. And I’m glad that you mentioned the memorandum of understanding that we signed a couple of weeks ago, with this renewed commitment to assist Jordan over the next three years. There’s much more to be done, particularly after this escalation of the fight against ISIL and against all the forces of evil.
Mr. Secretary, let me just reiterate what His Majesty the King, says repeatedly: This is our war. This is a war that has to have a Muslim/Arab stand, but without the support of our international friends, our partners in the coalition, we cannot do it and we cannot eradicate this evil. It is truly a third world war by other means. You have over 90 nationalities fighting along these sick, warp-minded terrorists, and you have over 65 countries as part of a coalition. All of us are being threatened by these people – all our countries, all our individuals – and I think it takes the collective effort of all of us to defeat them and we shall prevail.
So thank you very much for your support, thank you very much for your friendship, and long may this true partnership live.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you, Nasser.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you. Thank you very much.