BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei and Jordan renewed their “close friendship” on Thursday, after leaders held bilateral talks in Amman, which saw the signing of three memoranda of understanding in defence, tourism and infrastructure, in addition to an agreement on cooperation in customs.

Referring to the agreements, His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan said: “That, again, is a message to our peoples how close and important the relationship is.”

No further details of the MOUs were disclosed publicly.

Leaders of both countries expressed their eagerness to strengthen cooperation in economic, commercial, military, and educational fields.

“This visit gives us the opportunity to… review our bilateral cooperation,” His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah said. “I am grateful to see that since the establishment of our diplomatic ties, 33 years ago, our relationship has developed into a close friendship.”

Delegations from Brunei and Jordan, led HM Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and King Abdullah II, hold bilateral talks at Al-Husseinieh Palace in Amman on Oct 4, 2018. Photo: Infofoto

The expanded talks also covered investment opportunities in Jordan in the ICT, pharmaceutical, and food production sectors, in addition to its strategic location as a potential gateway into several markets, Jordan’s state news agency, Petra, reported.

Senior cabinet ministers from both countries attended the talks at Al-Husseinieh Palace in Amman, as well as HRH Prince ‘Abdul Mateen and HRH Prince Al Hussein, the Crown Prince of Jordan.

HM the Sultan of Brunei shares a light moment with Bruneian students living in Jordan, during a get-together in the capital Amman on Oct 3, 2018. Photo: Infofoto

Bilateral talks

During the meeting, King Abdullah commended Brunei’s ability to “navigate challenges with calm, common sense, and dialogue”. He also thanked the sultanate for participating in the Aqaba Meetings — which focused on security challenges in Southeast Asia — in April, to coordinate a holistic approach to countering terrorism and extremism.

Brunei’s Second Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dato Erywan Yusof, and Jordan’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Lina Annab sign an MOU on tourism cooperation in Amman, Oct 4, 2018. Photo: Infofoto

Regional challenges and crises were also discussed, foremost of which was the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem.

According to Petra, the king stressed the importance of supporting a two-state solution where Palestinians gain legitimate rights to independent statehood with East Jerusalem as their capital.

His Majesty also thanked the Sultan for Brunei’s strong role in defending Jerusalem and supporting the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

“You have always looked at the challenges that people have in our region. And although you are all the way over in Asia, this part of the world is close to your heart,” he said.

Photo: Royal Hashemite Court

The talks also covered the financial challenges facing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees after the United States pulled US$200 million in funding for the agency, which provides essential services for five million people.

King Abdullah emphasised the need to sustain educational, health, and relief services to Palestinians.

Jordan’s growing Syrian refugee burden and efforts to combat terrorism were also discussed at the meeting.

Cementing defence ties

Later on Thursday, the leaders attended Jordan’s Annual Flag Parade, an annual national military spectacle inspired by a tradition that dates back to the establishment of the Emirate of Transjordan in 1921.

The Annual Flag Parade at Al-Rayah Parade Ground, a yearly military spectacle in Jordan. Photo: Royal Hashemite Court

The sultan was given the honour of presenting the Great Arab Revolt Flag to the 9th Prince Mohammad Mechanised Batallion, symbolising the Jordanian Armed Forces role as “guardians of the values of the Great Arab Revolt”, which have been the anchor of Jordan’s independence and modernisation, a statement from Brunei’s Prime Minister’s Office read.