The second meeting of the UAE-UK Taskforce took place at the new Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Abu Dhabi on 15 September 2010.
The meeting was hosted by His Excellency Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. The UK delegation was led by Alistair Burt MP, Minister for the Middle East and South Asia at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The Taskforce was established in July 2010 following the visits of British Prime Minister David Cameron to the UAE, and UAE Foreign Minister HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the UK, with the intention of further strengthening the ties between the two countries.
The Taskforce members noted that strong historical links and shared values between the UK and the UAE provided an excellent foundation for cooperation, and agreed that the Taskforce should build on these to deliver concrete and mutually beneficial objectives.
In light of this, the Taskforce agreed a range of areas in which the two countries would look to extend and deepen cooperation over the next twelve months, including defence and security; trade and investment; energy and climate change; international development; culture, education, health and sport; and consular relations.
On defence and security, the Taskforce recognised the potential for, and importance of, increased cooperation, welcomed the intensive dialogue between the two countries, and agreed to develop specific and enhanced commitments, underpinned by common assessments of threats. The Taskforce also agreed to enhance cooperation on law enforcement, economic crime and terrorist financing.
On trade and investment, the Taskforce agreed concrete steps towards realizing the ambition of increasing bilateral trade across all sectors to 65 billion Dhirams/£12 billion by 2015, including by agreeing to hold an early Joint Economic Committee meeting and by consulting on the establishment of a private-sector led UAE-UK Business Council to facilitate trade and investment between the countries. The Taskforce committed to work to promote free trade and to vigorously oppose any trend towards rising protectionism.
On energy and climate change, the Taskforce noted burgeoning collaborations between the two countries and identified opportunities for further joint working, including by using the upcoming European Future Energy Forum as an opportunity to promote investment between the two countries. The Taskforce members also agreed that the UAE and the UK will work closely together as hosts of the next two Clean Energy Ministerial summits to provide effective global leadership in the field of low carbon energy. The Taskforce also recognized the long-standing partnerships in the oil and gas sectors.
The Taskforce also recognized the leadership that the UAE is showing in its responsible and transparent approach to developing nuclear energy as a source of electricity for its citizens, and affirmed its desire to increase regulatory and commercial cooperation on nuclear energy, including through early signature of a UAE-UK Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.
On consular relations, recognising the more than 100,000 British residents in the UAE and around 50,000 UAE visitors to the UK each year, the Taskforce members agreed to conclude an early memorandum of understanding to ensure that consular procedures are proportionate and fit for the purpose of supporting increased tourism, business and friendship between the two countries while ensuring the security of each countries’ citizens. The Parties also agreed to consult further on emergency travel procedures.
The Taskforce recognized the enormous range of interchanges between the two countries in the fields of culture, education, health and sport and looked forward to seeing planned collaborations realized and the continued development of new ones. The Taskforce specifically welcomed the planned partnership between the Sheikh Zayed Museum and the British Museum.
The Taskforce also discussed cooperation on political and international development issues, agreeing that UAE and UK policymakers should actively share expertise and experience, with a view to maximizing the impact of their common efforts. In this regard the Taskforce discussed:
• Pakistan, where the Taskforce expressed profound concern for those suffering as a result of the floods and committed to working together to ensure the people and government of Pakistan are provided with long term support, not just short term crisis relief, and in light of that endorsed the important contribution that the Friends of Pakistan initiative can make to supporting the long term stability of that country;
• Afghanistan, where the Taskforce reaffirmed support for addressing the long term challenge of promoting economic development, political stability and security, and noted the immediate challenge of enabling effective parliamentary elections;
• Yemen, where the Taskforce recognized the multiple challenges facing that country and committed to focus on the long term stability and development of Yemen as a key priority, and looked forward to agreeing further actions and assistance with the Government of Yemen at the next Friends of Yemen meeting; and
• the Middle East Peace Process, where the Taskforce welcomed the renewed dialogue, recognized the imperative that these negotiations are successful, and pledged to support measures leading to a just and comprehensive peace.
The Taskforce also agreed to hold an early, joint meeting on international development issues, engaging Ministries of Foreign Affairs, aid ministries and aid experts, to identify opportunities for closer coordination.
The Taskforce condemned the ongoing piracy in the Gulf of Aden, agreed to redouble their efforts to tackle this threat, and welcomed the UAE’s proposal to organise an international conference on this issue.
The Taskforce reiterated its call for Iran to comply fully with UN Security Council Resolutions on its nuclear programme. The Taskforce also called for there to be a just solution to the dispute over the islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb, either through bilateral negotiation or by submitting the issue to the International Court of Justice or another form of international arbitration.
Finally, the Taskforce welcomed the upcoming visits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the UAE and His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the UK. It noted that these visits represent significant opportunities to continue the process of building and showcasing partnership between the two countries.