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UAE French relations grow stronger over the years: Sheikh Khalifa

posted on 15/06/2003: 629 views

H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, yesterday affirmed that the UAE-French relations grew stronger over the years. The remarks came in study issued today by the Zayed Centre for Co-ordination and Follow Up, ZCCF, on the occasion of Sheikh Khalifa's meeting yesterday with French President Jacques Chirac. The study said that Sheikh Khalifa had visited France in August 1972 for the first time, laying the foundation for the co-operation that had flourished ever since between the two countries.

Sheikh Khalifa at the time expressed the keen desire of the UAE to strengthen ties with France in order to benefit from France's expertise in economic and military fields, noting at the same time France's honourable stances on Arab issues. On his second visit to France in 1977, Sheikh Khalifa affirmed that the agreements that had been signed between the two countries had opened a new phase of co-operation, particularly in the military field.

From 1977 until present, Sheikh Khalifa had a number of meetings with French Ministers who visited the UAE and reviewed with them ways of furthering relations and had exchanged views with them on regional and international issues, particularly the need to establish a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East on the basis of international legitimacy.

Sheikh Khalifa said that he was delighted at his meeting with President Chirac to whom he said he had conveyed the greetings of President H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. In a statement during his meeting with Chirac, Sheikh Khalifa described the relations between the UAE and France as "strategic, strong and deep rooted," saying that the relations should be further enhanced in order to maintain the stability and security of the region. Sheikh Khalifa stressed the need for the international community to continue its efforts in order to fully implement the road map peace initiative in the Middle East without any preconditions.

Meanwhile, the Elysee spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said that the two sides discussed bilateral ties, describing the ties as "distinguished, strong and exemplary in a framework of a strategic partnership." She said President Chirac had asked Sheikh Khalifa to convey his greetings, respect and feelings of friendship to Sheikh Zayed. On Iraq, She said that Chirac affirmed that France could not change its previous analysis, noting however that the latest Security Council decision had considered the role of the United Nations in Iraq and that it was now necessary to implement it within the framework of restoring Iraq's stability.

Colonna said that Sheikh Khalifa had affirmed the UAE's support for the Road Map and the need to implement it fully as well as the need for the quartet members to play their role effectively in this regard. She said that President Chirac expressed his concerns on the latest developments in the Palestinian territories, particularly the situation following the Aqaba summit, but affirmed that the next step should be the implementation of the Road Map despite the obstacles laid down by extremists. Colona said that Chirac stressed the need to give the priority to establishing peace and restoring the feeble hope provided by the Road Map and not to allow a return to a renewed cycle of violence and revenge.

She said that Chirac had noted the EU's stance which saw President Arafat as the legitimate elected President of the Palestinian people while giving necessary support to Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Colona said that Chirac had briefed Sheikh Khalifa on the outcome of his meeting with U.S. President George Bush during the G-8 summit and the determination of the U.S. to use pressure for the establishment of peace.

Present at the meeting were Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Sheikh Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Protocol and Guests Department, Rashid Abdullah, Foreign Minister, Ahmed Juma Al Za'abi, Director of the Crown Prince's Office, and Saif Sultan Mubarak Al Aryan, UAE Ambassador to France. Also present was Francois Gouyette, French Ambassador to the UAE. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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