x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hague lauds UAE role in region

Foreign secretary tells of desire to aid Western Region's development.

DUBAI // The British foreign secretary met senior UAE officials yesterday to discuss issues of regional concern.

William Hague conducted several meetings in Abu Dhabi before taking a tour of Al Dhafra Air Base to meet Emirati pilots as part of the one-day visit.

Mr Hague met the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed; the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak; and Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region.

"He expressed Britain's desire to contribute to the development plans in the Western Region, especially in the fields of education, oil and gas and renewable energy," the Wam news agency reported.

He also signed a memorandum of understanding with UAE officials to jointly fund further development of a major thoroughfare in Afghanistan.

The north-south highway, Route 611, is one of the country's main supply routes.

Mr Hague addressed a group of diplomats to the UAE about requirements in regional diplomacy.

"The main element of the talk is about co-operation between the two countries and how that's led to a number of successes, and going on to a discussion on some foreign-policy issues," said a spokesman for the British Embassy.

Writing exclusively in The National today, Mr Hague lauded cooperation with the UAE in enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya.

"The UAE was one of the first partners to whom we turned in looking for allies," he writes. "The role played by UK and UAE diplomats, military personnel and humanitarian organisations was exemplary.

"Of course both our countries will provide ongoing support for this newly liberated country, but it is ultimately up to the Libyan people to decide their own future.

"… We also share grave concern about the deteriorating situation in Syria and the brutal violence orchestrated by the regime. And of course, we are both deeply concerned by events in Iran.

"It is crucial that the international community continues to stand firm and increase pressure on Iran until it agrees to come to the table and meaningfully address international concerns about its nuclear programme."

mcroucher@thenational.ae