UPDATE 1-Jordan appoints new ambassador to Qatar, two years after downgrading ties

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AMMAN, July 16 (Reuters) - Jordan appointed a new ambassador to Qatar on Tuesday, a step toward restoring normal relations two years after it withdrew its ambassador in solidarity with Gulf Arab allies who severed ties with Doha. Amman downgraded its diplomatic representation in June 2017, days after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain severed all ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies.

Zeid al-Lawzi, a senior career diplomat and secretary general of the foreign ministry, was named as the new envoy, a royal decree said.

Qatar last summer extended a $500 million aid package to Jordan only days after its Gulf adversaries pledged $2.5 billion to help Jordan overcome an economic crisis after a wave of rare anti-government protests.

Doha has in recent months opened more jobs for Jordanians as part of the aid package, which includes project finance and job generating investments.

Jordanian officials have privately expressed dismay that aid extended by Gulf heavyweight Saudi Arabia, among its main donors, had in recent years fallen short of the levels it once delivered to the cash-strapped Jordanian economy. (Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Editing by Peter Graff, William Maclean)

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