Senior U.S. diplomat presses for reforms in Jordan

09:35, February 13, 2011      

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U.S. Under Secretary of State Bill Burns has pressed for political and economic reforms in Jordan in the wake of unrest in Egypt, the U.S. State Department said on Saturday.

During his visit to the Middle East kingdom on Friday and Saturday, Burns "underscored American support for a sustained, serious and comprehensive program of political and economic reform, which is the key to realizing the enormous potential of Jordan and Jordanians," the department said in a statement.

Burns discussed the "historic events" in Egypt and a range of other regional and bilateral issues in his meetings with King Abdullah, Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and civil society leaders.

A former ambassador to Jordan, Burns "emphasized the strong, long-term American commitment to the well-being of Jordan, with whom the United States has worked in partnership for many decades in the pursuit of peace and prosperity," the statement said.

It said Burns welcomed King Abdullah's recent reaffirmation of Jordan's ambitious modernization agenda.

The United States sees Jordan and Egypt, the only two Arab states to have signed a peace deal with Israel, as close allies in the region. Eighteen days of mass anti-government protests forced Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to step down on Friday.

Grievances in Jordan have grown over the past years over soaring food and fuel prices and low salaries, prompting thousands of Jordanians to take to the streets over the past month to ask for genuine political and socioeconomic reforms.

Weeks of protests forced prime minister Samir Rifai to resign on Feb. 1. King Abdullah named Bakhit for the post the same day, and urged him to introduce economic and political reforms in the country.

Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, will arrive in Jordan on Sunday for a visit.

Source: Xinhua
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