Peace be upon you.
Your Majesty, it is an honour to welcome you to New Zealand for your first official visit, and to host you here tonight. We are delighted to reciprocate the hospitality shown to my predecessor, Lt Gen Sir Jerry Mateparae, during his 2013 visit to Jordan.
I sincerely hope that you will enjoy your visit here. It is a highlight for the bilateral relationship.
I would also like to welcome His Excellency Minister Judeh, and to take this opportunity to congratulate Minister Judeh on his reappointment in September. New Zealand looks forward to continuing our close cooperation with you during your term.
I also would like to acknowledge His Excellency Ambassador Kraishan, who presented credentials here only a month ago. I am pleased to welcome you back to New Zealand for such an important occasion.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge His Excellency Mr Dabbas, and congratulate you on your recent appointment as head of the Office of the Crown Prince.
Your Majesty, this visit is significant for the friendship between our countries. It is a welcome chance to discuss the issues that affect us both, many of which have global reach. The world is increasingly interconnected, but nothing can replace face-to-face discussions about the issues that matter.
Strong cooperation and the sharing of knowledge are key to increasing prosperity and security. They are crucial in diverse areas from building links in trade or education to responding to the threat of Da’esh.
Your Majesty, New Zealand is a geographically isolated island nation. This makes our international links all the more important to us, and visits such as yours even more welcome.
Like Jordan, New Zealand is a committed multilateralist, with a proud history of participation at the United Nations and elsewhere. As small counties, we are invested in the international system, and committed to playing our part.
We acknowledge Jordan’s major commitment in this regard – as demonstrated through its recent UN Security Council term, its contribution to peacekeeping, its important role in countering Da’esh, and its response to the Syrian refugee crisis.
The growing cooperation between our countries was particularly clear while we served together on the United Nations Security Council in 2015. We sincerely appreciate Jordan’s strong cooperation and support for this term. We value your perspectives on regional issues immensely.
While our term at the Security Council concludes this December, we remain committed to our engagement with Jordan. We are eager to maintain dialogue on both regional and bilateral issues, as well as global challenges.
One such challenge is the fight against terrorism, particularly in the form of Da’esh. Both New Zealand and Jordan are members of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. Jordan has been directly impacted by Da’esh, and we express our sincere condolences for the loss of life Jordan has experienced due to terrorism.
New Zealand has contributed to the counter-ISIL coalition through our non-combat training mission, involving up to 143 New Zealand personnel deployed to Iraq. In January, it was announced that the New Zealand deployment would be extended by a further 18 months.
Another global challenge is the Syrian conflict. We acknowledge Jordan’s immense generosity in hosting so many Syrian refugees. New Zealand’s humanitarian contribution in recent years has focused on assisting refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries, including Jordan. But even with international support, we realise that the hospitality of Jordan and its people has not been without sacrifices.
New Zealand and Jordan were co-leaders on Syrian humanitarian issues at the UN Security Council. New Zealand acknowledges Jordan’s significant investment at the Council in improving the humanitarian situation for Syrians both during their Council term and outside the Council. We were proud to work with Jordan on this issue in 2015, and we have sought to carry on Jordan’s good work in our final year on the Council.
New Zealand is delighted to host three New Zealand Development Scholarship recipients from Jordan. Another five will commence their studies in 2017. We continue to encourage Jordanian students to apply for these scholarships. Recipients not only learn valuable new skills, but also foster enduring connections between our two countries.
We also have strong links between our governments. Foreign Minister Murray McCully has just returned from a visit to Jordan to discuss the Middle East Peace Process and other regional issues. This is the latest of many high level visits in recent years.
We look forward to this engagement continuing. People-to-people links are important for any bilateral relationship, and we are pleased to be developing strong links at all levels. I am confident that this visit will result in be stronger cooperation between us in a variety of areas.
On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen of New Zealand, and the Government and people of this country, “Mai nga kokona o te whare Aotearoa nga mihi mahana kia koe – From the four corners of the house of Aotearoa I extend a warm welcome to you.”
Thank you. Tena koutou katoa.