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US ambassador nominee commends Kingdom’s reform path, regional role


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — The US priority in Jordan is to help the Kingdom’s economy recover in a way that ensures its stability and security, according to Nominee for US Ambassador to Jordan Henry Wooster.
Economic growth in Jordan slowed from 8 per cent in 2007 to about 2 per cent in 2011, when the country was hit by regional disruptions caused by the Syrian crisis, and had remained at that level until COVID-19 forced an economic shutdown, he pointed out. 
“Nevertheless, Jordan has stepped up to the challenge. Its 2020 budget contains concrete, meaningful reforms to stimulate the economy and the Jordanian government’s decisive response to COVID-19 should enable it to begin safely reopening its economy,” Wooster said.
Wooster made his remarks while giving a statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday, a copy of which was made available to The Jordan Times.
“As Secretary Pompeo said last year, ‘Jordan is one of the United States’ enduring strategic partners,’ and from my own past service there, I know this to be true. American-Jordanian friendship advances US interests, as does Jordan’s path of modernisation and its example of moderation,” the ambassador nominee affirmed.
The Government of Jordan’s choices have brought its people “real benefits”, as shown by Jordan’s 98-per cent literacy rate, 74-year life expectancy and 1-per cent child mortality rate. 
“Yet, despite these successes, Jordan has suffered a series of external shocks over the last decade — such as the Syrian civil war and the fight against [Daesh], and more recently, COVID-19 — that have battered its economy,” Wooster noted. 
He asserted that the Kingdom has “proven itself a kind and generous neighbour” by both promoting peace in the region and, throughout its history, welcoming millions of refugees from neighbouring countries, including hundreds of thousands of Syrians. 
“I am proud the United States has contributed nearly $1.5 billion of humanitarian aid to refugees and host communities in Jordan since the Syria crisis began, and that the United States has assisted Jordan in hosting refugees from Iraq, Yemen and scores of countries,” he said.
Lauding the “strong bipartisan support” that the two nations enjoy, the ambassador nominee noted that US economic assistance to Jordan in FY 2019 exceeded $1 billion, including $745 million in direct budget support that bolstered the Kingdom’s economy as it implemented reforms and reduced budgetary strains.
“Our partnership with Jordan has long included military collaboration.  Jordan has been a leading member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and has more broadly been an invaluable ally in our joint work to counter terrorism, support international peacekeeping and provide humanitarian assistance throughout the region,” he said.
Jordan is the third largest recipient of Foreign Military Financing, with US support focusing on the implementation of the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army’s five-year plan for modernisation, readiness and enhanced interoperability among Jordanian, US and NATO forces, he said. 
“Our military assistance furthers Jordan’s place in the region as a bastion of stability,” Wooster said.
“If confirmed, I pledge to work with you, with all the tools the US government has, with international organisations like the IMF and the World Bank, and with the international community, to help Jordan create a stable and growing economy,” he noted.
Wooster joined the US Foreign Service 20 years ago, following nine years in the civil service, five of which were spent overseas, and before that, served in the US Army and Army Reserve. He has served in eight US embassies — from Paris to Baghdad — as well as in numerous positions in Washington, DC. At present, he serves as the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Maghreb and Egypt.

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