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Abdulla bin Zayed concludes successful visit to Cuba

posted on 08/10/2015: 1248 views



8th October 2015: WAM Editorial note: Following the visit by UAE Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdulla bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to Cuba earlier this week, the international news agency, IPS, distributed a feature reviewing the visit and the development of UAE-Cuban relations, the text of which follows: HAVANA, 7th October, 2015 (IPS) -- Cuba and the United Arab Emirates agreed to strengthen diplomatic ties and bilateral cooperation during an official visit to the Caribbean island nation by the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

During his 24-hour stay, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah met with Cuban authorities, signed two agreements, and inaugurated the UAE embassy in Havana, which he said was a clear sign of the consolidation of the ties established by the two countries in March 2002.

"I am sure that the next few years will witness the prosperity of our ties," Sheikh Abdullah said during his official meeting with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, with whom he signed an agreement on air services between, and beyond, the territories of the two nations, in order to facilitate the broadening of opportunities for international air transport.

During the meeting, Rodriguez reaffirmed his government's support for Arab peoples in their struggle to maintain their independence and territorial integrity.

According to official sources, the two foreign ministers concurred that the opening of the UAE embassy is an important step forward in bilateral ties and will permit closer follow-up of questions of mutual interest.

Sheikh Abdullah also met with the first vice president of the councils of state and ministers, Miguel Diaz Canel. The two officials confirmed the good state of bilateral ties and the possibilities for cooperation on the economic, trade and financial fronts.

Cuba's Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, signed a credit agreement with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, to finance a solar energy farm that will generate 10 MW of electricity.

Sheikh Abdullah first visited Havana in October, 2009, in response to an official invitation from Minister Rodriguez. On that occasion, they signed two agreements, one on economic, trade and technical cooperation, and another between the two foreign ministries.

"We have great confidence in Cuba's leaders and in our capacity to carry out these kinds of projects," H.H. Sheikh Abdullah told the local media on that occasion.

The United Arab Emirates established diplomatic relations with Cuba in March 2002, in an accord signed in Cairo.

The decision to open an embassy in the Cuban capital was reached in a June 2014 Cabinet meeting presided over by UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

In late February 2015, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid received the letters of credentials for the new ambassador of Cuba in the UAE, Enrique Enriquez, during a ceremony at Al Mushrif Palace in the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi.

Later, UAE Assistant Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Ahmed al Jarman, and Enriquez discussed the state of bilateral relations and agreed to take immediate concrete steps to expand and strengthen ties in different areas.

Enriquez also met with Cubans living in Abu Dhabi with a view to bolstering relations between them and their home country. They agreed on periodic future gatherings.

In May 2014, the UAE and Cuba signed an open skies agreement to allow the airlines of both countries to operate in each other's territories, as well as opening the door to new plans for flights between the two countries, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, GCAA, reported.

The accord formed part of a strategy to boost trade with other countries, said Saif Mohammed al Suwaidi, Director General of the GCAA, who headed a delegation of officials and representatives of national airlines during a two-day visit to Cuba.

The UAE signed similar agreements with other Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, as part of its effort at closer relations with the region, which is of growing interest to the UAE.

Talks have also been announced between the UAE and Russia to build a giant airport in Cuba which would serve as an international airport hub for Latin America, the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper reported in February of this year. The proposal is being discussed by the Russian government and the Abu Dhabi state investment fund, Mubadala, mandated to diversify the emirate's economy.

In 2013 and 2014, The UAE was named the world's largest official development aid donor in a report released by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD. In 2013, the UAE provided US$5 billion dollars in ODA to other countries. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395286443993.html

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