Qatar offers Jordan $500-m aid package

Qatar Wednesday unveiled a $500-million aid package to cash-trapped Jordan despite reduced diplomatic ties between the two countries.

 A Qatari delegation, led by Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, met with King Abdallah II in capital Amman. The Qatari delegation unwrapped an aid package worth $500 million containing investments, and job opportunities for Jordanians.

Jordan is facing an economic slowdown marked by an alarming budget deficit. Austerity measures to recover a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2016 sparked week-long protests early this month. The protests led to resignation of Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki and his cabinet.

Qatar is extending its support although ties between the two countries were downgraded in June last year. Jordan then sided with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt after the four severed ties with the tiny gas-rich country.

Jordan, a close ally of Saudi Arabia, shut down al Jazeera news network offices.

 Sunday, the Saudi kingdom hosted regional summit that gathered the UAE, and Kuwait. King Abduallah himself was in attendance. The summit pledged a $2.5 billion aid package. The package include a deposit in the Jordanian central bank, World Bank guarantees, budgetary support over five years and financing for development projects.

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