x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nato chief praises UAE for Afghan role

The UAE is an important partner in Afghanistan, the head of Nato said after a meeting in Brussels with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.

The UAE is an important partner in Afghanistan as part of an international security alliance, the head of Nato said yesterday after a meeting in Brussels with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, commended the "significant" role of the country in Afghanistan and its humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.

"The UAE is very important for Nato in the Istanbul Co-operation Initiative (ICI) as it contributes tremendously to peacekeeping in the Balkans and in Afghanistan," he said. "Nato and the ICI face the same challenges that cannot be tackled by any country alone." He was speaking after a meeting of Nato foreign ministers. Sheikh Abdullah reiterated the commitment of the UAE to work with Nato on ensuring regional security and peace, and on the exchange of information, training and defence expertise.

In October, Abu Dhabi hosted high-ranking officials from the 28 Nato countries to chart a way forward, after which the UAE signed a security agreement on swapping intelligence. "We are looking forward to promoting these important ties between the UAE and Nato," Mr Rasmussen said yesterday. James Appathurai, the Nato spokesman, said at a press conference that the UAE's participation in the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) was "valuable and yielded positive results", according to WAM, the state news agency.

"Being a Muslim country, the UAE has a lot of credibility in dealing with the Afghan people, and it enjoys a lot of respect there, and its participation in reconstruction, building, education, services, aid and peacekeeping operations has made it closer to the Afghans," he said. He added that the country's contribution was evident in its field work and that the UAE had always "proven its adherence to the values of freedom, justice and equality that are derived from the real spirit of Islam".

sbhattacharya@thenational.ae