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Welcome to "Ask the Ambassador" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to U.S. Ambassadors around the world.

U.S. Ambassador to Jordan David Hale, discussed U.S.-Jordan bilateral relations.

David Hale, U.S. Ambassador to Jordan
David Hale
U.S. Ambassador to
Jordan
Biography

Event Date: 3/27/2008


Merv in Connecticut writes:

What accounts for the recent annual increase in the number of Fulbright grants to Jordan in particular available for American scholars? It appears that grants to Jordan (sponsored in part by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs) have grown more proportionally to other countries in the region. Many thanks!

Ambassador Hale:

Merv, thank you for your message and interest in the Fulbright program in Jordan. You are correct. We have seen a significant increase in the number of applications (and eventual Fulbright Awards) from American Scholars and, especially, from American graduate students to Jordan over the last 2-3 years: for the 2008-09 academic year, there has been a two-fold increase in the number of American Fulbright candidates to Jordan.

This is due to several factors:

  1. Jordan invests and promotes higher educational opportunities to its citizens with an emphasis on international exchanges;
  2. approximately two-thirds of Jordanian faculty in public and private institutions of higher learning have received their advanced degrees in the West with about half of this number from the U.S. As a result, institution-to-institution linkages between the American and Jordanian academic communities are well-established and sustained over the past decades, benefiting both parties;
  3. All of Jordan’s universities (public and private) mirror the American university structure/organization, credit hour system and curricula;
  4. American visiting scholars are enthusiastically welcomed and have ample opportunities to conduct collaborative research with their Jordanian faculty counterparts;
  5. American Fulbright students have shown an increased interest in learning Arabic – with the recent U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Enhancement Awards initiative in 2006. Several universities (as well as private institutions) in Jordan offer quality programs in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language; and,
  6. Finally, Jordan’s political and social stability, rich culture and renowned hospitality makes it an attractive location.

If you are interested in additional information on the Fulbright programs in Jordan, I invite you to visit the Binational Fulbright Commission’s website at www.fulbright-jordan.org.


Michael in Pennsylvania writes:

Ambassador, I am honored to be able to ask you a question. I wonder what you can tell me, please, about the status of support for radical Palestinian groups like Hamas in Jordan, and whether and to what extent the Kingdom is taking measures to minimize or constrain aid by supporters there to such groups, please. Thank you for taking my question.

Ambassador Hale:

In his meeting with King Abdullah at the White House on March 4, President Bush said “America has got no stronger friend in the Middle East than Jordan. And we appreciate your firmness when it comes to dealing with terror and extremism.” Several years ago, the Jordanian government expelled Hamas leaders from Jordan and does not permit them to travel here. The Central Bank of Jordan has also taken steps to prohibit financial flows to Hamas.


Ryan in Washington, DC writes:

What did you have to do to become an Ambassador? Where did you go to study International Relations?

Ambassador Hale:

Ryan, the President appoints ambassadors, with the consent of Congress. It is a huge and humbling honor to have been chosen and the opportunity it provides to serve my nation is truly exhilarating. I have been a career Foreign Service Officer at the State Department, specializing in the Middle East. I graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and studied Arabic and Middle Eastern studies at Johns Hopkins for one year, before joining the government. There are many paths to becoming an ambassador, and I am very fortunate to have found one of them.


Cristina in Texas writes:

Dear Ambassador: A group of students from my university are planning to travel to Jordan this winter. What kind of experience can we expect from visiting the country, and what can we do as students to promote U.S.-Jordanian relations?

Ambassador Hale:

Cristina, tens of thousands of Americans visit Jordan each year. American visitors enjoy the country’s many historical sites such as Jerash and Petra and Mount Nebo, as well as recreational opportunities at the Dead Sea or in Aqaba. Jordanians are a warm and generous people. Students can do a lot to promote relations between our countries. They can participate in student exchange programs, study abroad programs, and host Jordanian students in the U.S. Our Embassy’s Public Affairs section can help facilitate video dialogues between students at American and Jordanian universities, and several American universities send groups of students to Jordan each year to study Arabic language and culture. Promoting these contacts is especially important now, to deepen understanding between the people of the Middle East and Americans. Good luck, Cristina, and be sure to check out the Country Specific Information Sheet on Jordan before you go. You can find it at: http://www.travel.state.gov


Martin in Washington, DC writes:

Sir! With so many Palestinians living in Jordan, can Jordan be a strong partner in negotiating for peace in the region? Do you see Jordan as a country interested in solving the tensions between Israel and the Palestinians?

Ambassador Hale:

Jordan is an exceptionally strong partner for peace and a leader in promoting moderation. Jordan is at peace with its neighbors, and enjoys a peace treaty with Israel. During King Abdullah’s visit to Washington in early March, President Bush noted the important role that Jordan is playing in the peace process, saying he valued the King’s leadership and passion in pushing for peace. Secretary Rice has noted that Jordan was “extremely helpful” in the run-up to peace talks in Annapolis last year. The King also spoke with great conviction of his commitment to advancing peace in an address at Princeton University during the March visit. I believe the overwhelming majority of Jordanians, from whatever background, support him in this cause.


Raed in Iraq writes:

I am an Iraqi national interpreter. I have been working with the U.S. military for about four years. I have applied for the special Immigrant visa, but my petition is not complete because the cap reached the limit for the fiscal year? Can we apply in U.S. embassy in Jordan or Syria ? Thank you for your consideration.

Ambassador Hale:

Raed, First, thank you for your service to the United States, and for your help in bringing about a better future for your fellow Iraqis. For information on resettlement opportunities open to Iraqis who have worked with or been associated with the USG in Iraq, please visit the following websites:
http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/info/info_3738.html;
http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/info/info_4172.html;
http://www.state.gov/g/prm/refadm/rls/fs/2008/101235.htm

For case specific inquiries about a pending SIV, please email NVCSIV@state.gov


Martin in Germany writes:

Ambassador Hale! How do you judge the position of Jordan in the war on terror? Can the country be of any help to this complex problem? What would the United States like Jordan to do? Best regards.

Ambassador Hale:

As a victim itself of terrorist attacks, Jordan is a committed partner in defeating the forces of terrorism and extremism. A very significant way in which Jordan pursues this fight has been the Amman Message, which rejects the use of Islam to justify violence. The tenets of that Message were endorsed by religious and political leaders across the Muslim world, and are now being spread in Jordan’s mosques and schools. More on the Amman Message can be found at: http://www.ammanmessage.com.


Michael in Pennsylvania writes:

Dear Mr. Hale: How do you think the Exodus of Palestinians to Jordan due to Israel occupation has affected the internal structure of Jordan? Do you believe that Jordan’s economy and internal structure can support more Palestinian immigrants? Thank you.
I think you would have to ask the Jordanians themselves to answer your question. Jordan has been a generous host and given Palestinian refugees substantial rights. You should consult our annual human rights report for more details.

Ambassador Hale:

For our part, the U.S. government pledge to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has reached $148 million for 2008. This amount includes a total of $91 million ($40 million of which was announced in January) to UNRWA’s General Fund supporting Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria; and $57 million to UNRWA’s 2008 West Bank and Gaza emergency appeal.

The U.S. contribution to the General Fund will support UNRWA’s provision of basic and vocational education, primary health care, and relief and social services to over 4.4 million registered Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

The $57 million American contribution to the West Bank/Gaza emergency appeal will allow UNRWA to provide food assistance to 895,000 Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank, create approximately 190,000 temporary jobs, and provide temporary shelter and shelter repair to refugees where needed.

Every year UNRWA educates approximately 490,000 children in more than 650 schools, hosts nine million patient visits in 127 health clinics and one hospital, and provides special hardship assistance to 250,000 of the most vulnerable refugees. UNRWA’s tolerance education program promotes human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance in every UNRWA school. Since the inception of its microfinance program in 1991, UNRWA has awarded 126,000 loans to help Palestinian refugees become self-sufficient and to promote private sector growth.

The United States is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor. In 2007, the U.S. Government contributed $154.15 million to UNRWA, including $90.65 million for UNRWA’s General Fund and $63.5 million for its emergency appeals for Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza.


May in Japan writes:

Does Jordan have a massive quantity of bio fuels? Does it trade much with other countries?

Ambassador Hale:

May, Jordan has not been endowed with many indigenous energy resources and is highly dependent on imported energy, including oil at market prices. Thus, the rise in oil prices has presented the Jordanian economy with a serious challenge. Last December, Jordan released a new energy strategy developed by a Royal Commission that looks to enhance renewable energy projects, particularly in wind and solar power, and implement intensive energy efficiency programs. Jordan recently participated in the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference hosted by the State Department in Washington, DC, where the Jordanian delegation pledged to have renewable energy represent 10% of its energy mix by 2020. We continue to work with the Jordanians to find ways to support this goal.

The Jordanian government is also exploring development of a peaceful nuclear energy program for generating electricity. The U.S. government signed a memorandum of understanding with Jordan last year under which the two countries will work together to develop requirements for appropriate power reactors, fuel service arrangements, civilian training, nuclear safety, energy technology, and other related areas.

Jordan does trade with many other countries. Jordan’s leaders have an impressive strategy to develop Jordan’s economy through trade and foreign investment. You can check out the Jordanian government’s Ministry of Trade and Industry’s web site for their statistics. A recent report from that ministry stated for 2007: “As for commodities, the main exported items were vegetables, pharmaceutical products, phosphates, fertilizers and potash, while there was a retreat in the apparel and related accessories. Meanwhile, there was a rise in Jordan’s imports of cereals, crude oil, iron, machinery and electrical appliances against a retreat in the imports of vehicles and motorcycles.”

The United States has a strong trade relationship with Jordan. Jordan was the first Arab country to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., and the third such country worldwide. The U.S. is Jordan’s top bilateral trading partner, with total trade last year amounting to $2.19 billion, of which $1.33 billion were Jordanian exports to the U.S., primarily in the garment sector. Other Jordanian exports to the U.S. include jewelry, machinery, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. Top U.S. exports to Jordan include aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, machinery and mechanical equipment, and cereals.


Jeremy in Georgia writes:

Ambassador Hale: In looking at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, what role do you foresee the country of Jordan playing in bringing about a solution? Furthermore, do you believe that it is our duty to encourage our allies to participate in resolving conflicts such as this?
Thank you sir.

Ambassador Hale:

Jordan is a leader in promoting a peaceful resolution of this problem based on a two-state solution. We do look to countries like Jordan, itself at peace with Israel, for help in this regard. As President Bush said at last November’s Annapolis conference: “Arab states also have a vital role to play. Relaunching the Arab League initiative and the Arab League's support are positive steps. All Arab states should show their strong support for the government of President Abbas -- and provide needed assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Arab states should also reach out to Israel, work toward the normalization of relations, and demonstrate in both word and deed that they believe that Israel and its people have a permanent home in the Middle East. These are vital steps toward the comprehensive peace that we all seek.”


Christian in U.S.A. writes:

I am U.S. citizen. The U.S. embassy requested DNA as proof of relationship. It has been 2 weeks since they received the positive result from the U.S. lab but my son is still waiting for a call. This has been a very long procedure. I thought once the DNA is received my son will be called and get his visa. I am worried. What can I do???

Ambassador Hale:

Christian, I can’t comment on your case in this public forum due to the Privacy Act, but please send an e-mail to the following address: Amman-iv@state.gov, and I’ll be sure you get an answer.


Robert in Georgia writes:

Ambassador Hale: I will be traveling to the Dead Sea area of Jordan for business in a few months. I will then be traveling by car to Jerusalem. Is this a safe journey to make (from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem)? I will most likely be going through the West Bank? Is it safe for me to bring my wife to Jordan?

Ambassador Hale:

Robert, I’m glad to hear you will be visiting Jordan. The Dead Sea is a place of unique beauty. Jordan and its people welcome visitors from around the world. Tourism is one of the most important local industries. Tens of thousands of Americans visit Jordan each year, and most enjoy their visit here. As in any country, American citizens and official visitors traveling in Jordan should exercise caution, be alert, and stay informed of regional and local events that could quickly impact the security environment in the country. For further information, see the State Department's Country Specific Information Sheet for Jordan and for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza at http://www.travel.state.gov. There you will also be able to get the most recent Public Announcements on Travel in the Middle East.


Ryan in Washington, DC writes:

What is Jordan’s stance on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology?

Ambassador Hale:

Ryan, the simplest thing may be for me to quote from King Abdullah’s interview with “Middle East Quarterly” in their Spring 2005 issue: “MEQ: The Iranian acquisition of nuclear capability would change the equation. What is the best response to this?

“King Abdullah: You have to deal with Iran with a united front. When we went to Iran about a year and a half ago, the Iranians were under tremendous pressure. They felt that they had gotten themselves into a very tight corner, and that's why they said, "Please, we want to reach out to the United States; we have our Al-Qaeda prisoners that we want to hand over; we want to talk about weapons of mass destruction; and we want to have some sort of a common understanding on the issue of Iraq, the unity of Iraq." But the minute the Europeans had prime ministers knocking on Iran's door, the Iranians felt the pressure was off. How do you address the nuclear issue now, given the way Europe is, with France's and Germany's relationship with the United States? How do you get a united front to deal with Iran? You need a unified front. But even so, that doesn't mean we should be letting the Iranians off the hook with what they're trying to do in Iraq.”


Bassam in Jordan writes:

We in Jordan are your partner. Why you are leaving Jordanians to suffer poverty?

Ambassador Hale:

You’re right, Bassam, Jordan is a valued partner of the United States. That’s why the U.S. is committed to assisting Jordan’s economic development and the Jordanian government’s efforts to improve the lives of all its people. Total USG assistance allocated to Jordan for FY 2008 is $663.5 million , of which $363.5 million is in economic and development assistance. Jordan is now the largest recipient of U.S. developmental assistance, measured on a per capita basis. Our assistance focused on key homegrown Jordanian development priorities including: water, health, education, economic growth, governance, and cash transfers. The U.S. has provided Jordan with over $3.2 billion in economic assistance over the last ten years, and remains strongly committed to assisting Jordan’s economic development.

In my country, there is strong bipartisan support for Jordan, and understanding of, and sympathy for the situation you’re in. U.S. leaders as well as ordinary Americans who visit here are impressed by the goals Jordan has set to develop its society, to advance its own trade-oriented strategy, and to build a knowledge-based economy that is creating jobs for the large number of youth in the country.

There are many ways in which our assistance directly benefits ordinary Jordanians. One program is INJAZ, which helps 60,000 young Jordanians every year to develop the entrepreneurial, business, and commercial skills that they need if they’re going to enter into the work force and be solid contributors to the economy. Another is NAJAH, which addresses some of the harder-to-reach Jordanian youth who have not had the advantages that some of their colleagues have had because they live in rural communities. I meet with many of these young people, and the NAJAH program gives them the basic skills they need to find a job and to perform well in that job, and to know what it takes to succeed in the work force.

More broadly in the education sector, we have a 90 million dollar program to support Jordan’s efforts to rehabilitate and construct schools. We’ve built a hundred kindergartens. These are for children of ages 5 and 6, who have not always had kindergarten programs made available to them. There is also a 10 million dollar program to help the Ministry of Education achieve its goal of computerizing all the schools, so that the youth in particular get those information technology skills that are needed in today’s work force.


Mothanna in California writes:

Dear Sir: I am a proud U.S. citizen, was single dad just got married to an Iraqi lady in Jordan. I have three American kids from my previous marriage ages 15, 12,and 7 years, they are desperate for their step mom to be with them to a degree that the youngest child didn’t want to come back to U.S.A. with me and stayed in Jordan with her step mom. Can I bring the step mother to U.S.A. on a visit visa till the school year end in June so that my kids can enjoy being with their mom for the next three months? Thank you for your help.

Ambassador Hale:

Mothanna, for general information on visitor visas, please look at the following web site: http://www.unitedstatesvisas.gov/obtainingvisa/index.html;

For instructions on how to apply for a visa in Amman, please refer to: amman.usembassy.gov


Adrienne in the U.S. writes:

Hi David: Can you please tell me what the risk assessment is for a U.S. citizen traveling to Jordan? Are there some areas that bear more risk than others, and if so which locations are they? Thank you.

Ambassador Hale:

Tens of thousands of Americans visit Jordan each year, and most enjoy their visit here. As in any country, American citizens and official visitors traveling in Jordan should exercise caution, be alert, and stay informed of regional and local events that could quickly impact the security environment in the country. For further information, see the State Department's Country Specific Information Sheet for Jordan at http://www.travel.state.gov. There, you will be able to get the most recent Public Announcements on Travel in the Middle East.


Judy in Florida writes:

Is it safe for U.S. citizens to travel to Jordan? What is your biggest challenge as U.S. Ambassador representing the U.S. in Jordan? Does Jordan encourage visitors from the U.S.?

Ambassador Hale:

Jordan and its people welcome visitors from around the world to visit Jordan. Tourism is one of the most important industries in Jordan. Tens of thousands of Americans visit Jordan each year, and most enjoy their visit here. As in any country, American citizens and official visitors traveling in Jordan should exercise caution, be alert, and stay informed of regional and local events that could quickly impact the security environment in the country. For further information, see the State Department's Country Specific Information Sheet for Jordan at http://www.travel.state.gov. There you will be able to get the most recent Public Announcements on Travel in the Middle East.

My greatest challenge is finding the time to be a part of all the incredible programs we have in Jordan to promote our relations, advance mutual understanding, and support Jordan’s homegrown reform and development efforts.


Ehud in U.S.A. writes:

Recently I visited Jordan, while I have long considered Jordan (with its fledgling democratic ways and superb leaders) as a beacon for hope in the middle east, I returned home to the US with gloomier views, because I don't see how true progress is going to happen in a generation or two, I can't visualize strict traditional values being in harmony with real changes... and sadly, that is perfectly fine for most people there. Am I wrong?

Ambassador Hale:

Ehud, I’m sorry to hear that and certainly respect your views. However, I’ve lived in Jordan for almost five years now, and served here as well in 1990-91. I have a very different impression. I have seen tremendous progress in this country between those two assignments. Jordan is at peace with its neighbors, is a committed partner to spreading that peace and moderation, and is implementing an impressive vision of transformation of its economy, society and politics. This is not easy, and the challenges arising from the region and from poverty inside Jordan are great. But the changes over time have been real. You are right, it will take time. And there are elements of society that resist change. But I am confident the Jordan will remain on this path, and that is why our government is so determined to assist Jordan as it makes these efforts.


Kyle in North Carolina writes:

Hello Ambassador Hale. What are the challenges representing America in a part of the world that, as of now, does not have a high opinion of America? And what do you think needs to be done to change those opinions or can they even be changed? Thank you.

Ambassador Hale:

Kyle, promoting mutual understanding between Americans and Jordanians is one of the Embassy’s highest priorities. I do think we can change opinions. Even with individuals or audiences who sharply disagree with U.S. policies, I find Jordanians not only eager for dialogue, but also ready to hear other points of view and deepen their understanding of America. So, in addition to having every member of the Embassy team out speaking to Jordanians, we also have an active program to sponsor exchanges, cultural programs, visiting speakers’ series, and outreach programs to help people learn more about America and the American people. One of the most effective ways to address this problem is to put together Americans and Jordanians from a variety of backgrounds, but especially youth and religious leaders. Building relationships between the American and Jordanian people - on a personal level - is one of our most important goals. We also widely publicize U.S. economic assistance and development programs in Jordan, as well as many other cooperative programs between our two governments and private sectors in order to deliver the message that the U.S. is a longstanding, committed friend of Jordan and its people.


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