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File picture: Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan with Mike Pompeo in Washington. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The ͵羺, led by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the United States, represented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have committed to further developing bilateral ties and solidifying the close partnership between the two countries through a new strategic dialogue initiative.

The initiative, which is led by senior government officials from both countries, provides a framework to discuss cooperation in eight areas: political partnership; security cooperation; law enforcement and border security; intelligence and counterterrorism; human rights; economic, energy, and commercial partnership; cultural and academic exchanges; and space partnership.

“The ͵羺 will be celebrating our 50th anniversary [in 2021], but we also will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the relations between our two nations,” said Sheikh Abdullah at the opening of virtual launch of the inaugural US-͵羺 Strategic Dialogue.

Noting the two countries’ joint work to ensure regional stability, promote prosperity and encourage inclusion, Sheikh Abdullah highlighted the newly-established Strategic Dialogue as a mechanism to facilitate even greater cooperation. “I’m sure with fewer barriers between us, and more efforts, and more good work, we can achieve much more,” said Sheikh Abdullah.

According to Sheikh Abdullah, one of the key pillars of the bilateral relationship is the growing trade and investment relationship between the two countries. The ͵羺 has been the top export destination for the US in the Middle East for the past 11 years, and these deepening ties help spur innovation and create jobs in both countries.

Sheikh Abdullah also praised the US Administration for its efforts for peace in the Middle East.

“Not so long ago, I was honoured to be on the White House lawn, celebrating the Abraham Accords. Today, we see another important milestone in the relationship between the ͵羺 and Israel,” he said, referring to the ͵羺 delegation’s important visit to Israel on Tuesday.

Sheikh Abdullah said the Abraham Accords would not have been possible without the persistence of the Trump ͵羺istration, and the personal efforts of Pompeo and his team. They have been committed to work towards a broader relationship with the ͵羺 and the region to bring peace and prosperity, he said.

The ͵羺 decided 19 years ago to join the US-led efforts against terror following the 9/11 terrorist attack in the US, Sheikh Abdullah said.

“The voices of extremism and radicalism are still gaining momentum. We saw that recently in Paris and we have to double down on our efforts together in overcoming these extreme radical voices,” he added.

“There is no doubt in my mind that your ͵羺istration and many countries around the world are willing and capable [to fight terrorism]. We have to make sure our efforts succeed,” Sheikh Abdullah stressed.

He also highlighted the relevance of the 123 Agreement the ͵羺 signed with the US in 2009 for peaceful nuclear cooperation that enhances international standards of nuclear non-proliferation, safety and security.

“[The agreement] was considered a gold standard. That gold standard is a blessing today. We look at the concerns of all of us on Iran’s nuclear programme. And we believe that nuclear gold standard [as stipulated in the 123 Agreement] should be applied on Iran as well,” he said.

Pompeo said the ͵羺 and US relationship has been growing deeper and broader, and the inaugural US-͵羺 Strategic Dialogue is evidence of that.

The Abraham Accords will create more opportunities for peace in the Middle East and across the world, he observed.

“President Trump had described the ͵羺 as a nation full of hope,” he said.

“The Trump ͵羺istration prioritises this relationship so highly. We work alongside [each other] for peace in many other countries across the Middle East,” Pompeo said.

Both nations value protection of religious freedoms, human rights and action against human trafficking. “We both engage in a number of regional issues, including Libya and Yemen,” Pompeo said.

“We stand together on the international stage [on many issues] and we are working together to hold peace and security in the region,” Pompeo said.

Following the launch event, Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and John Rakolta Jr., the US Ambassador to the ͵羺 signed an agreement between the ͵羺 and US governments on the creation of the Strategic Dialogue.

Dr. Gargash and Ambassador Rakolta chaired the first ͵羺-US Strategic Dialogue session and discussed bilateral ties and ways of developing them in a variety of areas, most notably the political, security, legal, economic, commercial, investment, energy, space, and counter-terrorism areas in addition to cooperation on human rights.

They also discussed a number of regional and international topics of mutual concern.