Jordan will reopen its border with Syria only when it is ready, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Thursday, in a signal that Amman could delay a decision that would boost President Bashar al Assad.
Billions of dollars in annual trade with Europe and the Gulf moved through the Syrian-Jordanian Nassib crossing until fighting erupted in 2011. It was captured by rebels in 2015 and its closure hurt the economy of Syria and neighbouring states.
Damascus said this week the road was ready for use but Safadi said he had received no request to reopen it.
“We will deal with the request with all positiveness that serves our interests,” he told a news conference with visiting French Foreign Minster Jean-Yves Le Drian. “Matters have to stabilize,” he said.
Safadi said he discussed reopening the crossing with Moscow.
The crossing’s recapture by Syrian forces was a central goal of a campaign launched last June by the government and Russian forces to regain control of rebel-held parts of the southwest.
“Jordan in principle wants open borders with all its neighbors.. But when and how (Nassib opening) this will depend on when we ensure our interests and our security,” he added.
Diplomats say Amman now wants Russian guarantees to help restore stability in the sensitive southern border area where officials say a spillover of violence and radicalism poses a threat.
Before reopening the crossing, it also wants Russian military police to play a bigger role in protecting displaced civilians who want to return to areas recently won back by Syria’s army and to repel a threat from Iranian militias.