x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Spain urges co-operation

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe emphasised the importance of co-operation with the UAE through parliamentary channels.

MADRID // Spain's Crown Prince Felipe emphasised the importance of co-operation with the UAE through parliamentary channels when he met Abdul Aziz al Ghurair, the Federal National Council Speaker, yesterday. "He was very enthusiastic about furthering the relationship between Spain and the Emirates," said Mr Ghurair, who met Prince Felipe at the Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid.

Prince Felipe told Mr Ghurair he would accept an invitation from Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to visit the capital. No date has been announced for the visit. The prince's father, King Juan Carlos, visited the UAE in May and met Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Khalifa said during the visit that the friendship between his father and King Juan Carlos had an "enormous impact" on bilateral relations.

Sheikh Khalifa said the two countries had strong ties, discernible in their close co-operation in joint investments, energy, education, culture, technology and media. Mr Ghurair yesterday met Spanish government and parliamentary officials including José Bono Martínez, the president of the Congress of Deputies, and Francisco Javier Rojo Garcia, the speaker of the senate. Mr Garcia said their meeting was aimed at promoting bilateral economic and political relations between the two countries.

"It is especially important to identify areas of co-operation for the future," he said. "Our first priority in this regard is to boost diplomatic relations at the parliamentary level." Mr Garcia said he touched on the issue of the three occupied Emirati islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs in his talks with the FNC delegation. The islands were occupied by Iran in 1971. The Spanish official praised the UAE's attitude based on "negotiation and dialogue", saying this was "an ideal way to resolve disputes".

"[Dialogue] gives more legitimacy to the country's efforts to defend its interest," he said. "That is why this position is very intelligent because you can't solve a problem through more dispute." King Juan Carlos's visit to the UAE in May has lifted the country's relations with Spain to a new level. It was learnt yesterday that just before meeting the Spanish monarch, Sheikh Khalifa said the Government was to discuss signing a military co-operation accord with Spain that would include training and military research.