France's Macron in Jordan to discuss Gaza aid with king

The French president and King Abdullah II will discuss joint work on humanitarian and medical aid for Gazans

By AFP

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King Abdullah II (R) welcomes France's President Emmanuel Macron (L) upon his arrival at Aqaba airport. — AFP
King Abdullah II (R) welcomes France's President Emmanuel Macron (L) upon his arrival at Aqaba airport. — AFP

Published: Thu 21 Dec 2023, 8:06 PM

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Jordan on Thursday for talks with King Abdullah II on aid to war-battered Gaza, where Israel has been fighting Hamas militants since early October.

Macron is then due to visit French troops stationed in the Middle Eastern country for a traditional Christmas meeting with forces deployed overseas.

The French president was welcomed by the Jordanian king upon landing at the Red Sea port city of Aqaba, and the two were due to meet later at a royal palace.

This is the second meeting between the two leaders since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Macron had toured the Middle East in late October in a show of solidarity with Israel.

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Paris has since shifted its tone, calling for a ceasefire in the fighting that has so far killed at least 20,000 people in the Gaza Strip, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas government.

Macron and Abdullah II are set to discuss "joint work on humanitarian and medical aid for the civilian population of Gaza", according to the French presidency.

Two French planes laden with humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory are expected to arrive in Amman over the next days.

Just before his trip to Jordan, the French president said on Wednesday that Israel's right to defend itself did not mean the country could "flatten Gaza".

"We cannot let the idea take root that an efficient fight against terrorism implies to flatten Gaza or attack civilian populations indiscriminately," Macron told the France 5 broadcaster.

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During his visit, Macron is expected to reiterate "the urgency of establishing a new and immediate truce leading to a permanent ceasefire", the presidency said.

His visit is also expected to take him to an air base in Jordan, where he is due to reiterate France's commitment to the fight against global terrorism, according to the presidency.

The 350 French troops deployed in Jordan form part of the US-led international coalition fighting remnants of the Daesh group in Iraq and Syria.

As he participates in the planned celebration at the air force base in Jordan on Friday, the last of France's troops are set to withdraw from Niger, the military junta in the Sahel country announced.

Driven out of Mali, Burkina Faso and then Niger by hostile juntas, French forces have been partially redeployed to Eastern Europe since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine in February 2022.


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