Defence ties with Jordan, deals on health, culture on table


NEW DELHI, Feb. 28: A framework on defence cooperation, a twinning agreement between archaeological sites in Agra and Petra (Jordan), establishment of a centre for excellence in Amman by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), and some agreements on health, culture, customs are on the table as the visiting King of Jordan Abdullah II Bin Al-Hussein meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, Modi broke protocol for the seventh time as he received Abdullah II at the airport in Delhi. The Indian PM, who had landed after his visit to Karnataka, was just in time for the Jordanian King’s arrival. Modi, who met King Abdullah in Amman earlier this month on his way to Palestine, has deviated from protocol six times — for Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Japan PM Shinzo Abe, UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (twice), Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and US President Barack Obama.

King Abdullah will be delivering a speech, “Islamic Heritage: promoting understanding and moderation”, on Thursday in which he will talk about Indian society and its multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural diversity, and its experience in dealing with religious extremism.

Sources said that while Modi will attend the event — being organised by the India Islamic Cultural Centre — there is a possibility that he may speak there as well. “However, the PM’s speech has not been finalised yet,” a source said.
This is a first such event to be organised for a foreign leader from the Arab world in the last three and a half years of Modi government. The audience will include Islamic scholars and think-tank representatives, and influential leaders from the Muslim community, apart from representatives from the Arab world.

According to sources, the Jordanian King personally selected the topic of speech, and it assumes significance since he is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad and has been seen to take a leadership role in countering extremism and radicalisation in the Arab world through what is known as the “Aqaba Process”.

The king will also release an Urdu translation of his cousin Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad’s book ‘A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam’. Sources said security cooperation has been enhanced in the last couple of years, and the current dialogue mechanism exists between Deputy National Security Advisor from the Indian side and the Jordanian Director of Intelligence. Their first meeting took place in July 2016, and the next round is expected this year.

“There is much to learn from Jordan since they are well networked in the region. They have also offered to help in tracing the 39 missing Indians in Iraq,” a source said. The Jordanian King, who is perceived to be the unofficial ambassador for the Palestinian cause, will also be discussing the Palestinian issue. TIE


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