King discusses ties, region with top US military official

King discusses ties, region with top US military official

AMMAN - His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday discussed military cooperation with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.

At a meeting yesterday, King Abdullah and the US official discussed the latest developments in the Middle East and efforts to push the peace process forward in order to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of a two-state solution, a Royal Court statement said.

Discussions also focused on military training and US military assistance to the Kingdom, the statement added.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mullen said his visit to the Kingdom, during which he also met with his counterpart General Khaled Sarayreh, aimed at gaining “a better understanding of our mutual security challenges through Jordanian eyes”.

“Jordan’s most vital export, from my experience, is expertise… I can’t afford to miss the opportunity to learn from you,” he said, underlining the Kingdom’s extensive experience in military and counterterrorism activities.

During the press conference, Mullen paid tribute to Jordanian peacekeepers who lost their lives in Haiti’s quake recently, underlining Jordan’s contribution to peacekeeping efforts around the world.

The top US military officer warned that Iran’s pursuit to enrich uranium may spark a regional nuclear arms race.

At a press conference yesterday, Mullen said Tehran’s move to increase uranium enrichment comes “at a time of significant amount of instability” in the region.

“We are very concerned that Iran’s nuclear capability could destabilise the region and generate a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” he said in response to a question.

“They are on a path to becoming a nuclear weapons capable country and that is very dangerous,” he added, stressing that all options are on the table in the US response to the Iranian nuclear programme, including military action.

In response to a question, Mullen stressed the importance of regional assistance in Afghanistan, noting that Jordan cooperates with the international community and operates a field hospital in Afghanistan.

He expressed hope for a “smooth” transition while US troop levels in Iraq are reduced over the next year, and added that although American troop levels in Afghanistan will increase, Washington aims to hand over security affairs to the Afghan military.

“We have no plan to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan… I know the only way I can prove that is to execute that plan” to withdraw US troops from the countries and hand over security matters to national forces.

Regarding terrorism, Mullen stressed the need for multilateral efforts with support from regional partners.

“There are no military solutions. Period,” he said, stressing that a long-term solution to terrorism should be “based on common values we share between and amongst our countries” to create an environment where young men play a more productive role in society “rather than killing innocent civilians”.

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