x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Politician John Baird is on sixth visit to the UAE for talks with senior officials and to attend a forum.

DUBAI // The Canadian foreign minister has praised the UAE for playing a vital role in the Middle East.

John Baird is on his sixth visit to the UAE for the fourth Sir Bani Yas Forum, a meeting of foreign ministers in the Western Region that concludes on Sunday.

He will also hold talks with senior UAE officials.

“We have strong ties with the UAE and we work together on a wide range of collaborative issues,” he said in an interview with the state news agency Wam. “We also have good political relations with the UAE in dealing with the crisis in Syria and Egypt.”

Mr Baird said Canada and the UAE shared views and strategies on many regional issues, including the crisis in Syria, Iran’s nuclear programme, Egypt, the Middle East peace process, terrorism and violent extremism.

“There are many big challenges in the world and here, in the Middle East, the UAE has been playing a very constructive role,” he said.

“The UAE is recognised and respected for playing a very constructive role in the region.”

Canada is also supporting Dubai’s bid to host the World Expo 2020.

“We think it will be a phenomenal world-class city to showcase to the world, and we publicly endorse Dubai and speak to other countries in that respect,” Mr Baird said.

He also praised the UAE as one of Canada’s biggest trading partners in the Arab world.

“In 2012, trade exchange stood at C$6.1 billion (Dh21.42bn) and the figure is expected to rise,” he said.

“The level of trade exchange is good but we want to make it better, whether in agriculture, investment or defence.”

Mr Baird said Emirati investments in Canada were estimated at between C$15billion (Dh52bn) and C$30bn, making the UAE one of its largest foreign investors.