India, Jordan ink 12 pacts; step up cooperation to combat terror

India and Jordan today decided to step up defence cooperation to combat terror and prevent cyber security crimes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jordanian King Abdullah II held talks on key strategic issues after giving a clear message that terrorism and radicalisation are not linked to any religion.

The two leaders discussed a gamut of issues ranging from Syrian refugees to Palestine and resolved to enhance cooperation in the economic sphere, T S Tirumurti, secretary (economic relations) in the external affairs ministry, told reporters. Ahead of their talks, the two leaders addressed a conference on ‘Islamic Heritage: Promoting Understanding & Moderation’ during which Modi asserted that “the action against terrorism and radicalisation is not against religion. It is against the mindset that misleads our youth to inflict atrocities against innocents”, and the Jordanian king maintained that today s global war against terror is not a fight between different religions. King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, a 41st generation direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad, is known for his global initiative to fight radicalisation and terrorism. He is also the custodian of the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, located in the Old City of Jerusalem.

After extensive talks between their leaders, the two sides signed 12 agreements in a wide range of areas including defence, health and medicine, setting up of the next generation Centre of Excellence (COE) in Jordan, long term supply of rock phosphate and fertiliser and setting up of setting up of a Hindi Chair at the Jordan University. The defence cooperation, a key element of the visit, envisages to promote cooperation by “defining the scope of such cooperation and making provisions for implementation of the cooperation in some of the recognised areas like training; defence industry; counter-terrorism; military studies; cyber security; military medical services, peace-keeping etc”.

“There is keenness on both sides to take this cooperation further. We are in process of exploring our cooperation. We are also looking at closer security cooperation, keeping in mind the tremendous experience Jordan has in the region,” Tirumurti said. The king also visited the National Security Guard (NSG) campus, where he was given a demonstration of the elite fighting squad’s capability. He was “highly impressed” with the counter-terrorism capabilities of the NSG, Tirumurti said. A presentation on Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) was also done before the visiting dignitary. The Jordanian king is known to be an accomplished para trooper and a helicopter pilot.

When asked about the details on the pact on defence cooperation, Tirumurti said, “It is a framework agreement under which several areas of agreement were delineated. The two countries will explore what are the avenues which can be taken to move forward. There was nothing specific that was decided.” A Jordanian defence delegation had come to India in December last year and the two sides had discussion on a range of issues. On the issue of terrorism, Tirumurti said the leaders had “synergy of views” on matter.

The issue of Palestine also came up for discussion and the Jordanian King told Modi that India has an international role and he felt that its role in the region was very significant. “There was nothing specific that was discussed but he appreciated the fact that India had done a stand alone visit to Palestine and that we (India) enjoys credibility on both sides,” Tirumurti said. When Modi visited Palestine last month, Jordanian helicopters ferried him there. King Abdullah, who was on a foreign visit then, returned to Jordan and hosted the Indian prime minister.

On whether the issue of 39 Indians, who went missing from Iraq since 2014, Tirumurti said the issue did not come up for discussion. India had been in touch with Jordanian authorities on the issue.Jordan has been reeling under the pressure of Syrian refugees, besides those who entered the country from Iraq and Palestine. India had given a cash donation of USD 2 million. It will be giving Jordan an assistance of USD 5 million in form of vaccines and medicines. Tirumurti said during his visit the king also invited Indian businessmen to take advantage of Jordan’s Free Trade Agreement with several countries.

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