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U.S., Jordan sign MOU of billions of dollars amid Israel-Palestine divergence

2018-02-15 00:04:16 (Beijing Time)         news.xinhuanet.com

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) shakes hands with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi during their meeting in Amman, Jordan on Feb. 14, 2018. Jordan and the U.S. on Wednesday signed a deal under which the U.S. will grant Jordan more than 6 billion U.S. dollars from 2018-2022. (Xinhua/Mohammad Abu Ghosh)

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- With their remaining differences over the Israel-Palestine peace plan, visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Jordanian counterpart Ayman al-Safadi on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) worthy billions of dollars in Amman, the Middle Eastern country's capital city.

According to a statement released by the U.S. State Department, the MOU, the first of its kind signed by the Trump administration, represents the U.S. non-binding commitment to support providing no less than 1.275 billion U.S. dollars per year in its bilateral foreign assistance to Jordan in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2022.

Specifically, the MOU commits the United States to providing a minimum of 750 million U.S. dollars of Economic Support Funds and 350 million dollars of Foreign Military Financing to Jordan in FY 2018-2022.

Bringing an annual increase of 275 million U.S. dollars over the previous 2015-2017 MOU, the new document outlines areas of critical cooperation in the economic and defense sectors, while simultaneously mitigating the effect from Syrian and Iraqi refugees on Jordanian communities, according to the announcement.

The United States and Jordan have memorialized bilateral foreign assistance in three non-binding MOUs (FYs 2010-2014, 2015-2017, and 2018-2022).

The new commitment is subject to the appropriation and availability of funds.

For FY 2017, the United States provided some 1.3 billion U.S. dollars in bilateral foreign assistance and 200 million dollars in Department of Defense support to Jordan's Armed Forces.

The State Department said the MOU highlights Jordan's "pivotal" role in helping foster and safeguard regional stability and supports U.S. objectives to defeat the Islamic State, counter-terrorism cooperation and economic development.

Tillerson began his visit to Jordan on Wednesday to meet with King Abdullah II and other senior officials on bilateral ties. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert tweeted on the same day that the two sides also discussed the settlement of the Syria crisis and the issue of the Korean Peninsula.

Jordan has been a fierce critic of the United States after the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital last year, saying the U.S. move is illegal and void.

It also vowed to lobby the international community to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.