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Gargash: UAE-UK relations stronger

posted on 29/05/2013: 1522 views



The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, met earlier yesterday with Alistair Burt, the British Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for the Middle East and North Africa.

During their meeting, a range of topics were discussed, as well as bilateral projects that are under way.

They also reviewed a number of projects already achieved as a result of the establishment of the UAE-UK Taskforce, including a Memorandum of Understanding on Nuclear Cooperation, the establishment of a UAE-UK Businessmen Council, international Cooperation and development, repatriation of prisoners, defence and other issues mutually beneficial to the UAE and UK.

The ministers also discussed recent developments in the region, in particular the current crisis in Syria. The meeting was followed by a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The UAE Minister expressed his optimism with regards to the UAE-UK relations, saying that the success of the Taskforce meeting had enhanced further the bilateral relations, already much strengthened as a result of the visit by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Britain a few weeks ago.

Dr. Gargash also expressed his thanks for the British support for the UAE in its bid to host EXPO 2020.

The UK Minister praised the efforts made by the Centre for Countering Violent Extremism, which he visited earlier in the day, and the way it was making good use of the generous resources allocated to it to fight global terrorism.

Gargash spoke about the proposed visa waiver programme for UAE citizens, saying he is "not in the position" to make an announcement on this.

"We obviously will let people know." Burt commented: "We are still considering very carefully how things might change in relation to this. The present circumstances still hold. This is a matter the United Kingdom is giving consideration to." Gargash said about transfer of prisoners between the two countries, saying it was working very well.

"This is a positive addition to the relationship (with the UK). It supports both judicial systems. We had several cases where prisoners had been transferred." "We have discussed consular issues. Again we want to put things in perspective. In the UAE, we have very large British community of over 100000. We have certain issues and incidents and accidents. Of course these are usually dealt with. Some of these pieces become high profile pieces because of their nature. The United Kingdom, through its Embassy and its FCO. Of course, it is our role to answer questions regarding these factors. So the issue of (missing British seaman) Timothy MacColl is being discussed and as you know it is one of the high-profile cases. Answers are being provided." Burt said: "Bearing in mind that (there are) a hundred thousands UK residents in Dubai, it is a very small number of consular cases that arise from that. We are able to discuss them straightforwardly.

We are appreciative of the help being provided by Dubai Police in this distressing case, which is very important to us." Other issues raised at the press conference included Syria as well as the current situation in the Middle East as a whole.

The UK Minister called the current situation in Syria "an appalling disaster" and said "we remain eager and determined to secure a political settlement for Syria." He added that new pressure will be applied on the regime, which, he said, had chosen to wage a relentless war against its own people, and answering peaceful demonstrations with brute, deadly force.

He added "We believe it is necessary for the regime to recognise that it has lost its legitimacy".

He also stated the importance of getting the opposition and the regime together around one table to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. He reiterated that the violence will leave long-term damage, which would continue to worsen unless action was taken swiftly.

On a related note, the UK Minister urged citizens of neighbouring countries not to cross their own borders to fight in Syria, alluding to Syria s current state as a playground for sectarianism and extremism.

The UAE Minister also spoke about the plight of the Syrian refugees and stressing the importance of the UAE-UK humanitarian relief cooperation.

He also expressed his concern that medical facilities are often targeted by the Syrian regime, either through direct assault or through indirect political influence.

Gargash also urged Iran, following the recent military exercises in the Greater and Lesser Tunb Islands, to cease provocative actions and to agree to go to the International Court of Justice to bring a peaceful end to the occupation of the islands. He said that, despite the differences, the UAE and Iran are neighbours that share many good relations and that peaceful dialogue and respect would strengthen and deepen the bilateral relations.

The British Minister, in a comment on the urgency of the Syrian situation, said that host communities in the region have proven very generous. Their resources are now being over-stretched, he added, noting that this meant that the collaboration between the UAE and the UK in fund-raising for UN relief aid was great importance. He also praised the UAE humanitarian relief efforts such as the Mrajeeb Al Fhood camp in Jordan.

As for the upcoming Geneva II conference on Syria, both Gargash and Burt expressed their hope for a successful outcome, Burt stated "Dr. Gargash and I discussed the current situation in Syria and how to support the Syrian opposition in the run up to Geneva II." – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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