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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Sheikh Abdullah warns of Turkish and Iranian colonial ambitions

UAE and Russia have 'identical' positions on combating terrorism, Lavrov says

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, right, listens to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, left, in Abu Dhabi. Jon Gambrell / AP Photo
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, right, listens to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, left, in Abu Dhabi. Jon Gambrell / AP Photo

The UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, has warned Iran and Turkey against having colonial ambitions in the region.

At a press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Sheikh Abdullah warned that some countries in the region are undermining Syrian sovereignty, pointing out that he was speaking "about Turkey and Iran" who have a “colonial outlook on the Arab region”.

With fighting in Syria winding down in certain areas, Sheikh Abdullah urged countries to make the most of the opportunity in order to reach a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

Russia “wants to see a full implementation of [UN] resolution 2254 to combat terrorism and start a political settlement with the good fate of Syrian opposition”, Mr Lavrov said.

While Mr Lavrov's visit to the UAE – part of a three-nation tour in the Gulf which includes Kuwait and Qatar – has mainly focused on the ongoing diplomatic crisis involving Doha, both ministers did not mention the dispute during the conference.

Instead, they focused on the Syrian crisis, with Mr Lavrov praising Saudi Arabia’s efforts in supporting the peace process.

“We encouraged Moscow and Cairo platforms to work together and we will do our best to encourage the participation of all platforms,” Mr Lavrov said referring to peace talks in Riyadh this month, which brought together Syrian opposition groups under the Saudi-backed High Negotiation Committee, Egypt and Russia.

"Russia is ready to help Saudi Arabia to merge the three main opposition platforms," Mr Lavrov said.

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Sheikh Abdullah also thanked Russia for its efforts of “convincing the Moscow platform to participate in Riyadh peace talks”.

The Riyadh talks on August 21 were an effort to unite opposition delegations under UN Security Council Resolution 2254 which outlines a road map for a peace process in Syria, while setting a timetable for talks between government and opposition members.

However, that meeting ended in stalemate with the fate of president Bashar Al Assad still an obstacle in forming a unified front for peace talks.

Mr Al Assad's fate has long been a key sticking point, with the HNC insisting on ousting him but the other two camps adopting a softer stance.

Meanwhile, Mr Lavrov said it was “important for leveraging talks and engaging armed opposition in peace discussions”.

Along with Syria's opposition, the Russian defence minister agreed to set a de-escalation zone north of the battered city of Homs in early August.

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Mr Lavrov also affirmed that Russia and the UAE have “identical positions” on fighting terrorism in the region.

"We need more time to see progress on peace talks in Syria,” Sheikh Abdullah said. “Peace can't be established without gaining steps in fighting terrorism.”

During his visit Mr Lavrov also met with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

“We discussed further steps to consolidate cooperation in the fields of energy, finance and military,” Mr Lavrov said.

Sheikh Mohamed and Mr Lavrov talked about how the UAE and Russia can boost bilateral ties, including military and financial cooperation.

“Relations between the two countries have much evolved recently. We hope that this year they will grow stronger,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

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The conflict in Libya and Yemen were also discussed, with the ministers focusing on the task of resolving conflicts in the region.

Russia and the UAE agreed on the need for surrounding states to respect international law, state sovereignty and the territorial integrity of states.

While also consolidating the efforts of the international community in combating terrorism and extremism.

Shiekh Abdullah along with Mr Lavrov agreed to continue close foreign-policy coordination between Moscow and Abu Dhabi in the interest of maintaining regional and global stability.