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Saudi Arabia to host meeting on supporting Jordan's economy

Riyadh says it will be looking for ways to overcome the 'crisis' in Jordan following mass demonstrations there
People raise their hands during a protest near the prime minister's office in Amman, Jordan (Rente

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Jordan will meet on Sunday to discuss ways to support Amman as it looks to tackle an economic crisis in the wake of protests.

Riyadh said in a statement on Saturday that King Salman had called the rulers of the three other nations to set up a meeting in Mecca after demonstrations rocked Jordan over a proposed tax increase. 

"They agreed to hold a meeting comprising the four countries ... to discuss means of supporting Jordan to overcome its current crisis," the statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Cash-strapped Jordan, a close ally of the United States that relies heavily on donors, is struggling to curb its debt after securing a $723mn loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

Austerity measures tied to the loan have seen prices of basic necessities rise across the kingdom, culminating in a week of angry protests over tax proposals that forced prime minister Hani Mulki to resign.

The authorities on Thursday announced they were withdrawing the unpopular legislation, but they still face a mammoth task to balance popular demands with the need to reduce the public debt burden. 

Jordan blames its economic woes on the instability rocking the region and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria, complaining it has not received enough international support. 

King Abdullah told reporters on Monday that there had been a "failure and slackness on the part of some officials regarding decision-making" and that "the world has not fully shouldered its responsibilities" by reducing aid despite the kingdom hosting close to a million Syrian refugees.

The World Bank says Jordan has "weak growth prospects" this year, while 18.5 percent of the working age population is unemployed.

Saudi Arabia and the United States are two of the major donors providing vital economic assistance to Jordan. 

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