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Abdullah-D'Alema press conference

posted on 16/01/2007: 766 views

UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, has praised the progress of bilateral relations between the UAE and Italy. He said UAE-Italian relations were progressing apace. "Last year, UAE investments in Italy made landmark growth," he said at a joint press conference with Italian Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema.

The visit of Mr. D'Alema was a good opportunity for us to discuss many issues with our friends the Italian," Sheikh Abdullah said.

He disclosed that he had discussed with the Italian Minister several regional issues, including developments in Iraq and the occupied Palestinian territories, the Italian role in the peace keeping forces in Lebanon, GCC-EU trade relations, besides the Iranian nuclear dossier, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the middle east peace process.

Sheikh Abdullah noted with satisfaction that economic exchange between the UAE and Italy was constantly growing, noting that the UAE was Italy's biggest economic partner in the Arab World, with trade exchange exceeding 2.5 billion Euros. He said these figures could double in the forthcoming years, in light of UAE mounting interest in investing in Italy, citing Mubadala's investment in Ferrari, and Ferrari's project in Yas Island.

On the Sunday meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the GCC, Egypt and Jordan with US Secretary of State Condoleezza rice in Kuwait, Sheikh Abdullah said Iraq would be the focus of the meeting. "We would like to hear from the US side President Bush's plans for restoration of security in Iraq," he said.

We have constantly urged the Iraqi Government and the US forces to act swiftly toward disarming all non-governmental parties. Militias have proven to be a genuine threat to peace and security in Iraq. No political or economic stability can be achieved until security is effectively restored.

Commenting on a press article that questioned what it called a UAE's failure to react effectively with the UN Security Council's resolution on the assassination of Former Lebanese Foreign Minister Rafik Hariri, Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE has responded positively and will continue to do so with the said resolution and any other one to be issued by the Security Council or the United Nations.

Sheikh Abdullah said free trade negotiations between the GCC and the EU had experienced considerable delay. However, he said, under the German's chairmanship of the EU, we hope to reach an agreement during the next six months.

On Somalia, Sheikh Abdullah said casting denunciations on this or that party was a waste of time. We need to encourage all Somali parties to renounce a two0decade strife, unfortunately, the Arab League, the African Union and the European Union have not extended adequate help to Somalia," he said.

Sheikh Abdullah praised Italy for having understood the real problems in the region and for its pivotal role within the EU. "I talked at length with Italian Minister about the need for allowing the Palestinians to realize their aspiration of having their own independent state.

For his part, the Italian Minister praised the UAE-Italian relations as strong and called for more exchange of visits to further consolidate the existing bonds. He extended an invitation to Sheikh Abdullah to visit Italy. He invited UAE and Arab investors to invest in Italy.

He said he had discussed with Sheikh Abdullah major issues of concern in the Middle East. We are in concurrence over the need for restoring peace and security to many parts of the world, such as Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine," he said.

On bilateral trade relations, the Minister said they were gaining momentum after a period of setback.

He said the Middle East peoples were longing for peace." There is a strong will for standing against fundamentalism. But it is argued here that alienating fundamentalism would require improvement of standards of living and reaching settlement for issues such as the Palestinian cause," he said.

'In our forthcoming talks with the US officials, we will highlight the need for new initiatives particularly with respect to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which now seems in need of higher level of commitment by all parties concerned." On Somalia, the Italian Minister said his country had long been engaged in efforts to see Somalia emerge out of anarchy and to help it build sustainable institutions. "That has been our stance. And that is why we were concerned at the attitude of the Islamic fundamentalist group.

We tried to dafter the intervention of Ethiopian forces, Somalia now seems to be in need for international help. We hope that the Ethiopian forces would be instantly withdrawn and replaced by African Union forces. The EU should provide economic and logistic support to help restore peace and security in Somalia," he said.

Talks between Sheikh Abdullah and his Italian counterpart covered means of boosting bilateral relations in all areas. Sheikh Abdullah underscored the need for boosting bilateral ties for the benefit of both countries.

For his part Foreign Minister D'Alema praised the constant progress of relations between the two countries. Sheikh Abdullah and the Italian Minister signed a memorandum of understanding on bilateral consultation at the level of foreign ministers. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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