The Jordan Times
AMMAN — Security of Jordan borders tops conversations between Jordanian and US senior military leaders, and Washington takes this security aspect “extremely seriously”, US Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells said on Monday.
Wells stated that her country is committed to assisting Jordan in tightening its borders, and has supported the Kingdom with $180 million in the form of monitoring radars and surveillance trailers all along Jordan’s borders with Syria and Iraq.
“We’ve been very proud to support the development of the quick reaction force and, already, eight Blackhawk helicopters were delivered last year and [the]first two of the next 12 Blackhawks [will] arrive at the end of this month with all 20 to be in Jordan by September,” the envoy said at a press gathering.
The ambassador, who is leaving the Kingdom at the end of this month after three years of service, added that these Blackhawks are going to give Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) an additional capacity in protecting the border, stressing that the 12 helicopters that are arriving were originally destined for the US army, but “we decided to prioritise Jordan’s request… We take security of Jordan’s borders extremely seriously and as an essential part of our partnership with JAF”.
The subject of strengthening Jordan’s border security tops talks between senior military leaders, and “everybody agrees” that there will be stability in southern Syria when all groups affiliated with Daesh, or Al Qaeda are defeated, Wells stressed.
The diplomat also noted that, with regard to the Palestinian cause, the US administration remains committed to the negotiated solution and Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s envoy for the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians is currently in the region to study the two parties’ positions regarding peace talks.
She also noted that Trump’s recent comments regarding the two-state solution were misunderstood and “we are seeing efforts of Trump through sending his envoy to the region”, in addition to inviting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit Washington in the near future.
Meanwhile, the envoy briefed journalists on her country’s support to Jordan to alleviate the impact of hosting Syrian refugees, noting that the US has used every lever to assist Jordan, and that she expects to see the same support and commitment to Jordan in the future.
Last year, Washington’s assistance reached $1.7 billion in aid provided to Jordan, which included $470 million in budget support and more than $800 million in support of JAF, in addition to military support to counter Daesh.
Over the past three years, Wells said, her country provided more than $2.5 billion in military support to JAF, while hundreds of Jordanian and US soldiers trained together, while the two first Jordanian female pilots are currently being trained in the US.
Moreover, the number of Jordanians who travelled to the US has doubled over the past three years, with the US having issued 35,000 visas to Jordanians in 2016. In addition, the number of US tourists who visited the Kingdom increased by 12 per cent last year, compared to 2015.
As for trade volume, it increased by 7 per cent last year compared to the year before, while US investments exceeded $2.2 billion in Jordan.
She also underlined other fields of support, noting that the US is now building 25 new schools, supporting the expansion of 170 others and building 300 kindergarten classrooms.
Through the USAID, her country also works to help creating new jobs through supporting SMEs, she told reporters.
As for the resettlement of Syrian refugees, former president Barak Obama set a target in fiscal year 2016 of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees to the US, which her country has met and surpassed.