Mohammed bin Zayed Receives British Defence Secretary

Gulf News16.03.2012 UAE
Mohammed bin Zayed Receives British Defence Secretary

Mohammed bin Zayed Receives British Defence Secretary

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On his first visit to the UAE since he assumed Office five months ago, British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond held talks, earlier this week, with General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi

and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Military Commanders at Al Dhafra airbase..

Sheikh Mohammed welcomed the British Secretary, stressing the importance of mutual visits of senior officials and joint bilateral meetings that would further bolster the distinguished cooperation ties between the two friendly countries.

The two sides discussed ways to enhance the bilateral ties and cooperation, especially in the military and defence affairs in the light of mutual interest and keenness on ensuring security, stability and peace in the region.

Sheikh Mohammed and Hammond also tackled the latest regional and international developments, as well, as issues of mutual interest.

Hammond said his country supports the UAE against any threat by Iran. “One of the things we are doing is looking at a series of options for increasing support for the UAE if direct threats emerged and there are discussions going on around the options for reinforcing our support to the UAE and coordinating with our American and French allies to do that.”

Calling his talks “extremely productive and informative”, Hammond added: “This is not a single visit, this is part of a deliberate decision on the part of the current UK coalition government to increase the level of engagement and cooperation between the UK and the UAE.”

The UAE and UK had signed a Defence Cooperation Accord in 1996, setting arrangements for the two countries' shared security and defence interests - one of Britain's largest defence commitments outside NATO.

Hammond said his country, which has continuous Royal Navy presence in the Gulf since the 1980s, will maintain this presence to keep sea lanes open and to provide support to allies such as the UAE.

HMS Daring, one of UK's newest and most formidable Type 45 destroyers, is currently on patrol along with a number of other Royal Navy vessels, including minesweepers.

Hammond said the UK and UAE were engaged in protecting shipping off the Horn of Africa to tackle piracy and worked together in the lead-up to the London Conference on Somalia last month, stressing his country's support to the conference on counter-piracy due to be held in the UAE in June.

Sheikh Mohammed also received today at the Emirates Palace (Abu Dhabi) US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and his accompanying delegation.

Sheikh Mohammed welcomed Panetta and praised the progressive ties of friendship between the two countries and their keen interest in furthering them in all fields.

They discussed issues of mutual interest, means to enhance cooperation and the latest regional and international developments.

Source: WAM/MN; Gulf News



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