GCC leaders to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Makkah

The meeting will discuss “ways to support Jordan to emerge from the economic crisis it is going through”

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will hold a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabahand and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday in the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia, a Saudi Royal Statement said early on Saturday.

The joint meeting will discuss “ways to support Jordan to emerge from the economic crisis it is going through”, the statement added.

Government plans to raise taxes have sparked the largest protests in years in Jordan, a U.S. ally that has mostly escaped years of regional turmoil.

Rallies in Amman, the capital, and other cities have brought thousands onto the streets, snowballing since unions first called a strike over a week ago.

Public resentment has grown since the government ended bread subsidies and hiked the general sales tax this year under a plan driven by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cut Jordan’s $37bn debt.

Jordan will ask the IMF for more time to implement reforms after the protests showed that pushing the country beyond its means risked instability, officials said.

Jordan’s King Abdullah also appointed former World Bank economist Omar al-Razzaz to form a new government and urged talks over tax hikes.

Jordan’s Prime Minister-designate Omar Razzaz said on Thursday he would withdraw the controversial tax bill soon after he has been sworn in by King Abdullah.

Razzaz told reporters after a meeting in parliament there was a consensus to withdraw the tax bill, which sparked the protests against policies that critics say have eroded living standards.