The seventh meeting of the UAE-UK Taskforce was hosted by Minister for the Middle East and South Asia Alistair Burt on 21 March in London.
The UAE delegation was led by Minister of State for Foreign Affair His Excellency Dr Anwar Gargash.
The Taskforce was established in July 2010, following the visits of the British Prime Minister The Rt. Hon David Cameron MP to the UAE, and the UAE Foreign Minister His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the UK, to strengthen further the ties between the two countries.
Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan, joined the meeting to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on international development cooperation, and to discuss work in this area. Ministers welcomed the commitment both countries had made through the new agreement, and the particular emphasis on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
Ministers noted the excellent progress on the jointly funded Route 611 infrastructure project in Afghanistan. Ministers noted that progress on the education Millennium Development Goal for Afghanistan and Pakistan was a priority for both countries. Following signature of the MOU, Ministers agreed to initiate short-term staff secondments to improve cooperation and lesson learning on evaluating aid impact. Ministers also raised renewable energy in developing countries and will discuss cooperation in this area.
The Taskforce noted the close cooperation between the UK and UAE on the London Conference on Somalia. They reviewed its outcomes and examined how to work together to drive the agenda forward. Ministers agreed that the UAE’s piracy conference in June, and their chairmanship of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, would be particularly helpful.
On communications, Ministers noted a number of new areas for cooperation including on Somalia/Piracy, Development Cooperation in Afghanistan and Law Enforcement. The Taskforce noted 2012 as a particularly exciting year with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
On counter terrorism, Ministers looked forward to the launch of the new Global Counter Terrorism Forum Countering Violent Extremism Working Group on 3-4 April in Abu Dhabi, and discussed priorities for their co-chairmanship of this group.
On education, the Taskforce discussed how to develop an inter-governmental dialogue on education. A proposed visit by John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, to the UAE later this year will help drive forward this cooperation.
On trade and investment, the Taskforce stressed the importance of encouraging the growth of business between the two countries. It noted that the UK/UAE CEO Forum was a useful mechanism for furthering bilateral trade and hoped the next meeting of the forum, scheduled for 9 May, would continue to deliver results and strengthen the bilateral relationship further. Ministers noted the important work to establish sector-focused working groups to drive the work of the forum.
On energy, Ministers reinforced their commitment to the UK/UAE energy partnership and explored the mutual objectives in multilateral fora, including IRENA and Rio+20. The Ministers looked forward to future cooperation on the issue of renewable energy.
On consular cooperation, the Taskforce emphasised the importance of resolving a number of ongoing consular cases. Ministers were pleased to see that the second round of Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) negotiations had been scheduled and discussed the importance of signing the agreement soon. Ministers also emphasized the continued good work of the UAE-UK Consular Working Group and its value in helping to progress consular issues.