31 January 2012

Opening remarks at joint press encounter with H.E. Nasser Judeh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan

Ban Ki-moon

Thank you, Mr. Foreign Minister, for your very kind words of welcome and hospitality.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

Salam Aleikum.

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to visit Jordan at this crucially important juncture of the Middle East peace process. As I have just begun my second term as Secretary-General, I thought that the most important way for me to contribute to the peace process of the Middle East and as the way to implement one of my five priorities which I have laid out this year, would be to contribute whatever I can to the Middle East peace process.

It is also very important and meaningful for me to begin my visit to this region, starting from Jordan. I would like to highly commend and appreciate the initiative and role of His Majesty King Abdullah and also Foreign Minister Judeh for facilitating these negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians which started only this month.

I hope this will create a momentum to sustain this dialogue process.

Foreign Minister Judeh and I had extensive discussions on the matters of our common concern, most importantly on how we can work together to help promote the Middle East peace process, as was requested by the Quartet statement of September last year.

I am also very happy to visit this region when there are a lot of changes are taking place in the Middle East and, of course, North Africa. I believe that first, reform and transition to democracy should continue to take place. The Arab region has a generational opportunity to create a future it deserves. At this critical juncture, I am committed to supporting Arab countries in transition and the people that struggle for democracy, justice, dignity, human rights and economic opportunity

This also demands that we empower our women and young people.

Dignity and justice in this region are threatened, not only by authoritarian rule, but also by occupation and conflict.

Tomorrow, I will meet the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. A two State solution where Israel and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security is long overdue. We must all do our part to break this impasse. In that regard, I really, again, highly appreciate the initiative of the leadership of the Jordanian Government.

I hope that the preparatory meetings which have taken place for five rounds of meetings here will continue and will ultimately lead to serious negotiations to reach an agreement for a two State solution by the end of this year, as envisaged by the Quartet.

In the short term, it is essential that provocations stop, as called for by the Quartet and that the parties build confidence and sustain these nascent talks.

The Foreign Minister and I also discussed the crisis in Syria which is having a growing impact on neighbouring countries, including Jordan. I thank Jordan for hosting some 2,500 Syrians who fled the violence in their country.

The UN refugee agency continues to work closely with the Government to help those in need. The United Nations is committed to ensuring that Jordan is not left to carry the burden alone.

I am encouraged by the League of Arab States' initiative to seek a political solution to this crisis. It is more urgent than ever to put an end to this bloodshed and violence, to start a credible political solution that addresses the legitimate aspiration of the Syrian people and to protect their fundamental freedoms. In that regard, I hope that the Security Council meeting where the Secretary General of the League of Arab States El-Araby and the Prime Minister of Qatar, in his capacity as the Chair of the League of Arab States, will bear fruit, bear good results, so that they can meet the expectations of the international community.

I commend Jordan for its strong commitment to the values and goals of the United Nations.

Jordan is one of the top contributing countries to the United Nations peacekeeping operations. Jordanians are serving as senior UN officials. We have Dr. Rima Khalaf who is working as Deputy Director of ESCWA [Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia] and the current Prime Minister - he was a judge of the International Court of Justice. We need more and more such contributions from the Jordanian people and we are ready to work together with Jordanian Government and people. We work together for democracy, stability, peace, justice, development and prosperity across the Middle East and all throughout the world. And I thank you very much. Shukran Jezeelan.