Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is in Jordan for the first leg of a five-day visit to the Middle East. Yesterday she met with King Abdullah II and Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh in Amman. She also visited the Zaatary Refugee camp and met with refugees from the crisis in Syria.
The High Representative is meeting Lebanese leaders today (Oct 23) in Beirut. In Jerusalem on Wednesday Oct 24, she will meet Israeli President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Lieberman and Minister of Defence Barak, before meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad. She will meet Palestinian President Abbas on Thursday Oct 25.
On the eve of her visit, Catherine Ashton said: “This is a critical time for the wider Middle East. The close cooperation between the European Union and our partners in the region is essential to help us deal with the political, strategic and humanitarian challenges we face at this time. The objective of this trip is to take this cooperation forward as effectively as possible.”
Following her visit to the Zaatary refugee camp in Jordan, Ashton said: “I visited the Zaatary refugee camp today to express the EU’s concern for the thousands of people who have had to flee their homes to escape from the horrendous situation in Syria.
I was able to meet courageous men, women and children who are living in difficult conditions and pass on to them a message of support from the European Union. I also passed on our thanks for the superb work being done by the French and Italian field hospitals in the camp, and the tireless work of the international and local humanitarian agencies.
The EU is ready to help with both humanitarian assistance and long term assistance to those affected by the fighting in Syria. It is a priority of mine to see to it that Syrian refugee children can continue with their schooling.
I am also fully aware of the difficult situation in Jordan following the influx of Syrian refugees, and I pay tribute to the vital role the Jordanian government has played in providing support and hospitality to them.”