King Abdullah has said regional peace can only be sustained if people in the Middle East have the opportunity to â€œlead a productive and satisfying lifeâ€.â€œFor that to be possible, the economies of our region must maximise their potential. There are opportunities for investment in infrastructure, for participation in a growing private sector and for developing markets,â€ the King said Friday in remarks at the Canadian Foreign Ministryâ€™s Lester B. Pearson Building, which was established in honour of renowned Canadian foreign minister and Nobel peace laureate who later became prime minister.
â€œNothing is more important to the future.â€
The Monarch said more than 60 per cent of the regionâ€™s population of 325 million are 24 or younger, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
â€œThat represents nearly 200 million young people who need and deserve a chance for a productive and rewarding life,â€ he told around 250 politicians, economists, journalists and intellectuals.
â€œThese young men and women of today are truly the crossroads generation. This is a generation who can choose to respect others and reach out in cooperation, who can enrich the future with their talent, creativity and energy, and who can develop our regional economy into a strong global entity. To share in the promise of the 21st century, they need your support.â€
On Friday, the King and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for a resumption of Mideast peace talks, saying only a two-state solution would end decades of Palestinian-Israeli violence.
â€œThat solution must be, in some form or another, a two-state solution,â€ Harper was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse at a joint news conference.
â€œI think both sides [Israel and the Palestinian Authority] have to accept that [that] will be the only final outcome that will lead to a lasting settlement.â€
King Abdullah said: â€œObviously, the next couple of weeks and months are going to be critical to bring the Israelis and Palestinians to launch the process forward.â€
â€œJordan welcomes an active Canadian role in helping to bring about a resolution to this conflict. Canadaâ€™s leadership role on the issue of Palestinian refugees is especially appreciated,â€ he added.
â€œJordan and Canada and many other countries in the international community are working as part of a team to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together so that we can launch the peace process,â€ he said.
Canada was the first to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority when Hamas won legislative elections 18 months ago, and Harper has recently taken a more pro-Israel stance on Middle East affairs than his predecessors, according to AFP.
Canadian media said King Abdullah had hoped to push Harper for a more active role in Mideast affairs as well as convince the prime minister to resume aid to the Palestinians, but no aid commitment was announced on Friday.
â€œIt is important that moderate leaders in the Middle East have support,â€ Harper said. â€œWe do support the government of [Palestinian] President Abbas… Now that Hamas is not in the government, weâ€™re looking at ways that we can increase our financial assistance.â€
â€œBut at the same time though, if I can be frank, I think Canada and others need to do two things vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority: One is obviously to indicate our support for a moderate government and negotiated solutions, but the other is to impress upon those authorities the necessity for reform and better governance,â€ he said.
â€œIt is our view that the Palestinian people did not vote for extremism. They voted against problems in governance and those have to be addressed,â€ Harper said.
The two leaders also announced accords on air transport and foreign investment protection and promotion, as well as plans to begin talks next year on a possible Canada-Jordan free trade agreement.Â