DUBAI // A senior US diplomat in Afghanistan has visited Emirati troops there, discussing their mission with Yusouf Saif Al Ali, the UAE ambassador in Kabul.
Richard Olson, who until June of this year served as the American ambassador to the UAE, oversees development and economic affairs for the US embassy in Kabul. He praised the Emirati troops, who have served alongside the US-led international coalition in Afghanistan since 2003.
Their work has included using drones to identify roadside bombs and training the Afghan police force. They have a presence in the southern Helmand province, where much fighting with the Taliban has taken place.
As one of the few Muslim forces in Afghanistan, the Emirati troops have been valued for their closer understanding of local culture.
Over the years, they have largely kept a low profile. But two weeks ago, a 30-minute documentary called Winds of Goodness aired on television featuring their mission.
The UAE Government has also funded social services in Afghanistan, including a college named Zayed University, 11 schools, a library, six clinics and a hospital. Female Emirati doctors are staffed at some of the medical facilities to treat Afghan women and children.
The two countries are also discussing ways to build up civil aviation in Afghanistan. In a meeting last week with the Afghan minister who oversees this sector, the UAE Minister of Economy Sultan Al Mansoori discussed options such as training Afghan aviation staff in the UAE, and increasing the number of flights between the two countries.