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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

UAE and UK discuss ways to boost co-operation 

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed met Sajid Javid in London on Monday

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, met with Sajid Javid, UK home secretary in London. Wam
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, met with Sajid Javid, UK home secretary in London. Wam

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, discussed counter-terrorism strategies and other areas of mutual interest with the UK Home Secretary during a private meeting in London on Monday.

The meeting with Sajid Javid was part of Sheikh Abdullahs official visit to Britain, in which he met investors and discussed the enhancement of co-operation between the countries.

Sheikh Abdullah repeated the UAE's stance against extremist ideas and vowed to combat terrorism in all its forms.

Mr Javid welcomed the visit, and spoke of the importance of strengthening relations of mutual co-operation and friendship with the UAE in various fields. He hailed the UAE's important role and pioneering initiatives to promote international peace and security and combat extremism and terrorism.

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The Home Office did not issue an official comment on the private meeting but confirmed the participants had touched on ways to further boost bilateral relations, especially in the fields of security and crime prevention.

The meeting was another step in the strengthening of ties between the UK and the Emirates. The UAE is the UK’s 12th-largest trading partner. Britain is set to officially leave the EU in March 2019 amid uncertainty about the degree of security-related information it will be able to maintain with countries in the European bloc.

Sheikh Abdullah is expected to meet both Jeremy Hunt, the new foreign secretary and Alistair Burt, the minister of state with responsibility for the Middle East at the Foreign Office. The visit will also see Sheikh Abdullah launch a new meeting point for the UAE linked communities in Britain. The Emirates Society is a major new initiative with the backing of the UAE embassy under the patronage of Suleiman Almazroui, the UAE ambassador. Cultural links between Britain and the UAE will also be celebrated at a major London museum.

A senior British MP hailed an "excellent" conversation between British lawmakers and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed in London on Tuesday

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation met with the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the UAE on Tuesday, fielding a number of questions from MPs and senior former cabinet ministers.

The meeting, which lasted just under an hour, was wide-ranging, taking in topics such as Brexit, religious freedom in the UAE and the upcoming peace talks with Yemen, said David Jones, Chairman of the APPG.

"He was very impressive. He dealt with all the questions very eloquently and frankly, I believe," said Mr Jones.

"It was possibly one of the most positive reactions I have seen to a visit from a minister from an overseas country."

In what will likely be a welcome statement to the UK government, Mr Jones said Sheikh Abdullah expressed the UAE's preference for a free trade agreement to be pursued between the two nations.

He also spoke on extremism, said Mr Jones who said there was deep and shared agenda on the challenges.

"He said it's very important that the whole Islamic world should bear down on extremism and the activities of hate clerics, who he said were causing huge problems," Mr Jones recalled.

With regard to Islamaphobia, he said it was important for Western nations to tackle hate speech in their own countries and would like to see far closer working between east and west on these issues.

On the ongoing conflict in Yemen and the approaching talks in Geneva, Mr Jones said he took away the UAE viewpoint that it was not desireable to have a solely military outcome, it was quite clearly important that there should be a political solution as quickly as feasible.

Trade in goods and services between the UK and the UAE reached £17.5 billion (Dh82.41bn) in 2017, a 12.3 per cent increase from 2016.

In 2017, the UK reported a trade surplus with the UAEof £4.7bn, compared to £5.0bn in 2016.