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UK-UAE Taskforce holds 3rd meeting in London

posted on 02/02/2011: 1101 views

The third meeting of the UK-UAE Taskforce took place at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on 31 January 2011. The meeting was hosted by Alistair Burt MP, Minister for the Middle East and South Asia, at the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The UAE delegation was headed by Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

The Taskforce was established in July 2010 following the visits of British Prime Minister David Cameron to the UAE, and UAE Foreign Minister His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the UK, with the intention of further strengthening the ties between the two countries.

The Taskforce members reaffirmed that strong historical links and shared values between the UK and UAE provided an excellent foundation for cooperation. They agreed that the Taskforce should continue to build on this foundation and deliver concrete and mutually beneficial objectives.

Following agreement at the last Taskforce meeting, the Parties reviewed a range of issues including defence and security; trade and investment; foreign policy; consular relations; international development; culture and education; and agreed to further deepen co-operation in these areas.

On defence and security, the Taskforce recognised the potential for, and importance of, increased cooperation, welcomed the intensive dialogue between the two countries, and agreed to develop specific and enhanced commitments, particularly around counter terrorism.

On trade and investment, the Taskforce agreed that the Joint Economic Committee, set up to help achieve the ambition of increasing bilateral trade across all sectors to 65 billion Dhirams/£12 billion by 2015, will meet again in April. The Taskforce also agreed that the UK-UAE Business Forum, a high level private sector business council to facilitate trade and investment between the countries, should meet for the first time in April.

On foreign policy, the Taskforce agreed further co-operation on regional initiatives, as well as, where appropriate, to reflect each other's concerns in international fora such as the G20, EU, GCC, Arab League and at the UN.

On consular relations, recognising the more than 100,000 British residents in the UAE and around 50,000 UAE visitors to the UK each year, the Taskforce noted the memorandum of understanding on consular co-operation which would help to facilitate tourism, institutional co-operation and friendship between the UK and the UAE. The Parties also agreed on the formation of a Joint Consular Committee and agreed a date for the first meeting.

In the fields of culture and education the Taskforce reaffirmed its commitment to these areas; recognised the high level of collaboration and interchange between the two countries; and committed to increasing the exchange of experience and best practice.

The Taskforce discussed cooperation on international development issues, agreeing to hold a joint seminar on shared development priorities.

On regional issues, the Taskforce examined areas of mutual interest. In this regard the Taskforce discussed: Afghanistan: where the Taskforce welcomed the inauguration of the new Parliament, on 26 January, marking the end of the 2010 Parliamentary elections, and looked forward to working with the new members of the Afghan Parliament. It reaffirmed support for addressing the long term challenge of promoting economic development, political stability and security.

Yemen: where the Taskforce noted recent demonstrations in the country; recognised the multiple challenges facing that country; and committed to focus on the long term stability and development of Yemen as a priority, including through the next Friends of Yemen meeting in Riyadh.

Egypt: where the Taskforce noted recent events and recognised Egypt's positive contribution to regional affairs. Ministers reaffirmed the importance of stability, strong institutions and good governance.

The Taskforce condemned piracy in the Gulf of Aden, noting the ongoing threat to energy supplies and trade to and from the Gulf. It welcomed the UAE's proposal to host an international conference on piracy in April and the UK offered its active participation and support with the conference.

The meeting was also attended by Abdulrahman Ghanem Almutaiwee Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and H.E. Mohammad Hilal Al-Shihhi / Director of European at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Lana Zaki Nussaibeh Director of Strategic Planning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Finally, the Taskforce emphasised that the UK-UAE relationship has continued to go from strength to strength since the last meeting in September, and welcomed the number of high level of visits in both directions over the last six months, which culminated in the State Visit of Her Majesty The Queen to the UAE in November and His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the UK in October. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


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