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Saudi to set up $3bn joint investment fund for Jordan

Saudi Arabia is to set up a $3 billion joint investment fund for Jordan, among 15 cooperation agreements signed by King Salman during a visit to Amman, state media said Tuesday.

Other agreements include measures to boost power generation, tackle worsening water shortages, and improve housing and health services, Jordan’s official Petra news agency said.

It said the accords covered uranium mining and water desalination projects, and that a memorandum was signed to build a $70 million solar power station on Jordan’s eastern border.

The agreements, worth a total of $3.5 billion, were signed on Monday evening shortly after Salman’s arrival for an Arab summit later this week, Petra added.

With desert covering 92 percent of its territory, the kingdom is one of the world’s 10 driest countries and wants to use atomic energy to fire desalination plants to overcome its crippling water shortage.

Jordan is thought to have significant uranium reserves and has struck deals over the years with foreign firms to mine for uranium in its central region, while also considering building a nuclear power plant.

One joint venture between Jordan Energy Resources Incorporated and the French company Areva was, however, terminated in 2012, months after they said that the overall uranium potential on a licensed area exceeded 20,000 tonnes.

The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission said in 2012 that a leading Australian company had discovered uranium resources in central Jordan that were more than double that amount.

In 2014, the Jordan Times newspaper quoted the head of state-owned Jordan Uranium Mining Company, Samer Kahook, as saying that central Jordan has reserves of 36,389 tonnes of uranium oxide.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia is one of Jordan’s main financial backers.

The Jordanian economy has been badly hit by the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Syria, which have put a huge strain on already stretched resources.

Arab foreign ministers were wrapping up two days of talks in the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Sweimeh on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s summit.


© Agence France-Presse