OTTAWA — A Jordanian newspaper is reporting that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will host King Abdullah II, one of his key allies in the fight on terrorism, in Ottawa in the coming days.
The tiny Middle Eastern desert kingdom has been punching above its weight internationally as one of Canada’s top allies in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Jordan has also borne a heavy load from Syria’s civil war, now in its fifth year, because its hosts an estimated 625,000 refugees. It has a population of eight million.
Jordan is also one of the five countries joining Canada in conducting bombing missions against ISIL targets inside Syria, along with the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar.
The Jordan Times said Abdullah’s official visit to Ottawa would be final leg of a three-country trip that started Wednesday at the Afro-Asia Summit in Indonesia.
Abdullah’s second stop was to be San Francisco for business meetings, before coming to Ottawa to meet Harper and “several other officials,” the newspaper said.
The newspaper did not say exactly when Abdullah would arrive in Ottawa.
The Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa had no comment.
Harper visited Jordan in January 2014 and pledged $105 million in aid to help the country cope with its influx of refugees.
Abdullah visited Ottawa in 2007, and since then, the monarch and Harper have developed what appears to be a warm relationship.
On Harper’s 2014 visit, Abdullah praised Canada’s global leadership, and said that he and Harper “as brothers” would work together to overcome the security challenges facing the world.
Harper heaped praise on Abdullah, telling him that Jordan was “one of our most important partners on all levels, in terms of commerce, in terms of development, in terms of security in this part of the world.”
Last year, Abdullah’s wife, Queen Rania, a development advocate, was one of Harper’s marquee guests at his three-day international conference on maternal, newborn and child health, the prime minister’s signature development initiative.
Abdullah is the son of the late King Hussein, who was widely regarded as one of Middle East’s leading peacemakers.
In 1994, Hussein became only the second Arab head of state to recognize Israel.
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
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