(photo credit: AP)
Jordan's King Abdullah II marked his nation's 60th independence on Thursday with a pledge to continue supporting Palestinians until they achieve statehood.
"We will not, on any day, under any circumstances, fail to support and assist the Palestinians until they attain their rights, including the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on Palestinian soil," Abdullah said in a speech marking the anniversary of independence from Britain.
His pledge came a month after Jordan uncovered a large cache of weapons, including Iranian-made Katyusha rockets, and arrested more than 20 Hamas members, saying they plotted attacks against Jordanian institutions and officials - allegations which the group has denied.
Abdullah hailed ongoing reforms in the kingdom, but admitted that "there is still a long way to go" - a reference to his plans to hold municipal elections and loosen laws governing political parties and parliamentary elections.
Abdullah said he was aware of dire economic conditions in his resource-barren kingdom, saddled by a multibillion foreign debt and where poverty blights 15 percent of the population, unemployment runs at 14 percent, and rising world fuel prices have swollen an already large budget deficit.
The king was addressing officials and local community leaders who gathered under a tent outside an Amman palace to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Jordan's independence from Britain.