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Jordan king hopes for bigger Syria ceasefire

AFP | Ottawa |

Visiting King Abdullah II of Jordan has said he hopes that a recent ceasefire in southern Syria will spread to other parts of the country to lead to a negotiated peace.

The kingdom shares a border of more than 370 kilometres (230 miles) with Syria, where over 330,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since its conflict broke out in 2011.

A ceasefire brokered by Jordan, Russia and the United States in the southern Syrian provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Suweida has largely held since it entered into force July 9.

“In Syria, we hope that the ceasefire in the southwest will be replicated elsewhere in the country, easing the way for a political solution that guarantees the country’s territorial integrity and ends the bloodshed,” King Abdullah II told a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday.

At the end of the monarch’s two-day state visit to Canada, Trudeau announced Can 45.3 million ($36.2 million) to help support Syrian refugees in Jordan, as well as economic development and the empowerment of women in the kingdom.

The United Nations says Jordan is hosting more than 650,000 Syrian refugees, while the kingdom puts their actual number at 1.4 million.

Since the end of 2015, Canada has taken in about 40,000 Syrian refugees.

“Canada has warmly welcomed Syrian refugees and we hope that it continues its humanitarian policy to give new homes to Syrians,” King Abdullah II said.

The two leaders also called on entrepreneurs and companies in both Canada and Jordan to take advantage of a 2012 free trade agreement to boost bilateral trade.

Current bilateral trade is modest (less than Can 200 million) despite more than doubling over the past decade.