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Arabs need to map out a responsible approach to issues: UAE FM

posted on 26/03/2007: 847 views

London - Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Foreign Minister, has said that Arab leaders need to map out "a collective, mature and responsible approach" towards issues facing the Arab world, when they meet in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday.

He noted that "serious and positive atmospheres" would prevail in the forthcoming Summit so that a collective perspective on issues on the agenda could be reached.

Sheikh Abdullah, however, noted that joint Arab action was impeded by a number of hurdles that could not be overcome within days, but he remained confident in the ability of the host, Saudi Arabia, to achieve a consensus over issues on the agenda.

"Efforts made by Saudi Arabia as far as the joint Arab action is concerned raise hope that the summit would lay out common, practical approaches to issues before it." he said.

Sheikh Abdullah denied any disparity in stances of other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) towards the occupation by Iran of the UAE three islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb. Although the Minister said his country maintains good neighbourhood with Iran, he reiterated his country's call for a peaceful solution to the issue of he occupied islands.

The UAE official said GCC countries are so worried about the Iranian nuclear programme that they need assurances it is for peaceful purposes and conceals no illegitimate ambitions and is to the technical standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On the Iraq issue, he reiterated his country's declared position, urging all Iraqi factions to close ranks to prevent their country from slipping into civil war. He stressed the need to reach a just solution to the Palestinian question by allowing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Sheikh Abdullah said it would be unfair and unrealistic to expect the summit to single-handedly address such complex issues as the Iraqi problem.

"The Iraqi problem, and indeed, other problems such as Palestine are not our responsibility alone as Arabs. There are other regional and international players involved in those issues. All that is required of us as Arabs is to map out "collective, mature and responsible approach" towards issues facing the Arab world", said the UAE Minister in an interview with the London-based Al Majala Arabic Magazine.

Asked whether UAE-Iranian relations have been affected by the shift of power in Iran from reformers to conservatives, Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE had nothing to do with Iranian internal affairs.

"First of all, our foreign policy is not swayed by any political changes. Rather, it is based on principles. Second, we have nothing to do with the internal affaires of other countries, just as we do not entertain any interference in our internal affairs. Our relations with Iran are therefore based on the principles of mutual interests, good neighbourliness, and resolution of outstanding issues through peaceful means. These are principles that could not change with the change of governments", he said.

On his recent visit to Iran, Sheikh Abdullah said it was part of a continuing dialogue between the two countries.

"I should, perhaps, point out that the issue of the occupied UAE Islands is not the only issue between us and Iran. In deed, our relations with Iran cover a wide-range of common interests and issues. It is true that the issue of the occupied island is the pivotal issue. However, this issue did not prevent us from cooperating with Iran on other areas of common interest. It is our long-held view that cooperation must continue so as to build the confidence necessary for resolving outstanding issues", he said.

Quizzed about the UAE's position if the US attacked Iran, Sheikh Abdullah expressed hope that current nuke impasse would be resolved without any military confrontation. As a small nation, the UAE is keen to promote peaceful co-existence between nations. We do not advocate the use of force as means to resolving disputes, he said.

"Having been the scene for devastating wars during the last two decades, the region cannot afford to have another war", he said.

He pointed out that the UAE-US relations are based on mutual interests and not on mere subordination.

Commenting on reforms in the GCC countries, Sheikh Abdullah said" "The issue of political reforms is a relative issue and varies from one country to the other, depending on its own peculiarities. In the UAE for example, we have invested heavily in human resources since the days of the late Sheikh Zayed until a point when President H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed launched his historic initiative to broaden the Shura by hold parliamentary elections. These partial elections were a prelude to full election which will be held at some point in the future".

The UAE Minister also touched on allegations levelled against his country that it was supporting President Mahmoud Abbas at the expense of the Hamas-led Government.

Responding to this charge, Sheikh Abdullah said: "It is not true that we are supporting President Abbas at the expense of the Hamas-led government. Our engagement with Abbas stems from the fact that he is the elected President of the Palestinian people. Moreover, we are concerned with how to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, which is now execrated day by day by the Israeli economic blockade". (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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