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UAE role in anti-terror war praised

posted on 12/09/2002: 687 views

U.S. Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba praised the role of the UAE in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks during a ceremony of remembrance at her residence. On the first anniversary of the attacks, senior officials of the UAE Government and members of the diplomatic corps were invited to sign a 'book of remembrance' for the victims.

Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, yesterday attended a reception hosted by Marcelle M. Wahba at her residence to commemorate the first anniversary of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Dr. Sheikh Sultan wrote a note in the remembrance book, expressing sympathy and condolences to the American people and to the families of the victims. He also wished the U.S. and its friendly people continuous progress and prosperity in a world free from terrorism and violence.

In an interview with Gulf News, the ambassador said: "The relationship between the U.S. and the UAE has become much stronger in the last year and I really hail the role the UAE leadership had on a global level in combating terrorism. "The UAE Government has been outstanding as a partner in the world coalition against terrorism in all aspects, military, operational, financial, economic, social and political."

When asked how the relationship between the U.S. and the UAE changed after the September 11, she replied: "Our relationships have changed in many ways all over the world not only in the UAE. The positive aspect of the changes is that we have come closer as individuals and nations. Over the past year we felt that our combined effort of working together is the only way to succeed against mindless terrorists. We have a much better co-operation."

Explaining further the effects of the September 11 attacks in the region, she said: "I meet on a regular basis with the American business community and the UAE economic leadership, and I am very pleased that there has been no ill effects on the business community. "The world economy of course has suffered a lot and we have seen it in the global market. But as far as the American business in the UAE is concerned, nothing has changed. Many of my local colleagues have told me the most important thing is to continue with our business. Terrorism cannot bring to an end the normal functions of life."

The ambassador, who was appointed a few weeks after the attacks, said she found big support and sympathy by the government and people of the UAE. "I have been very touched by the emotional reaction of support on the Emirates' side. I think that on the people-to-people level there is a recognition that if the U.S. is vulnerable then all of us also are."

With reference to the problem of current delays in issuing U.S. visas to UAE citizens, she said: "I am very much concerned about the impact of our entry procedures to the U.S. on students, tourists, businessmen and people going there for medical treatment. We don't want to feel that we are losing students or tourists from the UAE. "Nevertheless it was necessary to institute new procedures to ensure that people come to the U.S. for specific purposes. Some of the new procedures are difficult and we suggest people apply well in advance. We are doing our best and working hard to be sure that people who need to go to the U.S. receive their papers in time for their travel."

The ambassador confirmed that concern about security measures is always very high, but the UAE government is providing great support. "As we have seen in other parts of the world, embassies are always vulnerable. Nevertheless, in the UAE we have the best co-operation we could have from the UAE government's security services. "They provide us with extra security at the embassy and in the major areas where American citizens work. None of us feels insecure. We feel that we have a very hospitable environment in the UAE and I haven't seen anyone leaving the UAE," she added. (The Gulf News)


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