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Baroness Symons leads UK delegation to IDEX 2001

posted on 17/03/2001: 1576 views

The United Kingdom will actively participate in the International Defence Exhibition, IDEX2001, to be held here from March18 to 22. In an interview conducted by the Emirates News Agency, WAM, with Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, who will lead the UK delegation to the show, the Baroness said that fifty British companies will display their latest defence products at the show, which is being organised by the General Exhibitions Corporation, GEC.

She reiterated on the importance of IDEX, which, she said, gives an opportunity for interaction and exchange of ideas between visitors to the show and senior officials from different parts of the world. She stressed on the importance of defence cooperation between the UAE and the UK in the interest of peace and stability in the Gulf region.

Following is the text of the interview with the Baroness:

Q1: Abu Dhabi will be staging the International Defence Exhibition, IDEX2001, on March 18 to 22. What is the level of the UK's participation in the exhibition?

The trend in the world's defence industry in the recent past has been more and more towards merger and joint venture, with the previously distinct national boundaries being eroded. Our participation at this year's exhibition has been tailored to reflect this trend of merger and joint venture. The UK partnership pavilion has been organised by the Defence Manufacturers Association in conjunction with the UK Defence Export Services Organisation and the General Exhibitions Corporation and will consist of a group of around 50 exhibiting companies co-located in Hall 7.

Additionally, a demonstration area within the exhibition hall, manned by soldiers of the British Army, will once again be deployed at the exhibition, demonstrating equipment from around another 60 UK manufacturers.

Following their debut at the TRIDEX '98, these demonstration areas have proved to be an enormous success, enabling exhibition delegates to see and speak with "the user". Other UK and joint venture companies will also be exhibiting in other halls. HMS LANCASTER will be berthed at Mina Zayed during the exhibition calling in from her Gulf deployment. She will be on hand to host visits and demonstrate the world famous professionalism of the men and women of the Royal Navy. A considerable number of military and civilian staff with equipment related or regional expertise will also be in attendance. I believe you will agree that this level of effort is a strong demonstration of UK commitment to our friend in the UAE and to the success of IDEX2001.

Q2: How can you evaluate the importance of IDEX2001 in relations to your country's defence industry?

The IDEX and TRIDEX series of exhibitions held in the excellent environment of Abu Dhabi represent a tremendous opportunity for our equipment and service suppliers to promote their capabilities. Specialised exhibitions such as IDEX enable UK industry to exhibit safe in the knowledge that their audience is very much on the wavelength and receptive to their efforts. I recognise that the positive influences created by interacting with visitors from all over the world greatly improves commercial opportunities and stimulates initiative and new avenues for investment.

Q3: What is your plan to further develop the defence and military relations with the UAE and the other GCC states in the new century?

I am delighted that we continue to enjoy very warm defence relations with the UAE which are based on close historical connections and shared interests, particularly in the stability of the Gulf region. The UK is committed to developing its relationship with the UAE. The UK/UAE Defence Cooperation Accord sets out the framework for very close military cooperation and we have a wonderful opportunity to build on this foundation in the future.

In building the relationship we will aim to concentrate on bilateral military training opportunities from which we derive shared benefit in terms of developing the capabilities of our forces and improving their ability to work together. We have a number of such initiatives planned for the future and will continue to look for new opportunities.

I am particularly delighted to be attending the IDEX exhibition in Abu Dhabi, especially since it gives me a chance to renew many old friendships. We also enjoy very good relations with all the GCC states in both the civil and defence arenas, and place great value on these partnerships. On the military side, as with the UAE, we are regularly in contact with GCC states at senior level, and are working in concert with individual states to develop the capability of their and our forces. We have a range of training and assistance programmes in place with them, and a number of joint exercises are planned. We are always open to ideas for promoting interoperability and the ability to work together.

Q4: What is your country's share in the international defence and armament market?

According to Defence export Services Organisation estimates, the UK has achieved an annual average market share of more than 20 per cent over the last five years. This places us in second place behind the United States, but ahead of our European competitors

Q5: What is your opinion in the Middle East peace process?

The search for peace in the region must continue. Israel has recently elected Likud Leader Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister and it is important that we judge him and his new government on their words and deeds not on past actions. The United Kingdom looks to all parties to make sustained efforts for peace. Our own position is clear and unchanged. We believe that a negotiated agreement based on UN Security Council Resolution 242 and 338 is the only way to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. It is important that both sides endeavour to end the cycle of violence. Coupled to the violence, the social and economic effects of the prolonged closures of the occupied territories are a cause of real concern. It is clear to us that this Israel action only serves to stoke up resentment and sow the seeds of future violence. The UK is ready to help in the search for peace in any way that it can.

However, any agreement has to be one that both sides are happy with. Any attempt to impose a solution that either party could not accept would be doomed to failure. We know that substantial progress was made on the Clinton proposals at Taba and that Sharon does not want to work from that baseline. Nevertheless, much of the old agreed basis for negotiation remains. Talks are the only way ahead and we look forward to renewed meaningful contacts between the parties. If a permanent agreement proves elusive the Israelis and Palestinians need to agree on how they will live with one another until a permanent agreement can be reached.

Q6: What is your strategy on facing high competition from other advanced countries?

To maintain and build on what we have already set out to do. UK industry and Defence Export Services Organisation are fully committed to the highest standards in advice, technology, operational capability and support. In short to delight those who buy from us. In fact, as a major defence supplier the UK believes in working together with those who supply in such a way that they become our partners, rather than our customers.

Q7: How do you evaluate the current situation in the Gulf region?

The stability of the Gulf region remains vital for the UK's interests and we are steadfast in our commitment to building security here, despite our efforts to work with our friends and allies in the region to build this security, Saddam Hussein's Iraq remains a significant source of instability. And whilst we welcome the positive development in Iran, we look to Iran to play a positive role in the region. We hope that alongside our friends and allies we will continue to strive for security for all in the region. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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