The UAE delegation was headed by H.E. Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and the UK delegation was led by The Hon. Alistair Burt MP, UK Minister for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
This was the tenth meeting of the Taskforce since it was established nearly three years ago by His Highness President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the British Prime Minister The Rt Hon David Cameron MP. In that time, the Taskforce has supported a significant expansion in the bilateral relationship.
The Ministers took the opportunity to look back on the highly successful State Visit to the UK by the President of the UAE on 30 April -1 May. They observed that not only did the visit symbolize the strength that both countries attach to the relationship but that it had been an opportunity to make substantive progress on cooperation in a wide range of areas.
The UAE strongly welcomed the UK’s recent announcement of its support for Dubai’s bid to host the 2020 World Expo and both Ministers expressed confidence that Dubai would host a first class Expo, being a transit point between East and West and possessing excellent infrastructure.
The Ministers discussed a number of consular issues and underlined the need for ongoing cooperation on these important matters, which are of great significance to the citizens of both countries. In this vein, they also emphasized the value of facilitating travel of citizens between the two countries.
The UAE expressed sympathy for the brutal murder of a British soldier in the streets of London on 23 May and both Ministers noted that it reinforced the need for a continued, concerted and cooperative effort to tackle violent extremism. In this respect, they welcomed the establishment of the Hedayah Centre in Abu Dhabi, an international centre of excellence for countering violent extremism and noted how much it could contribute to preventing violent extremism across the globe.
The Ministers also discussed a number of issues around the legal cooperation that exists between the two countries, an initiative to promote sharing of best practice between the UK and UAE’s diplomatic services, as well as the UK and UAE’s ongoing collaboration on international development assistance.
The Ministers also discussed a number of regional issues. They reflected on a successful London Conference on Somalia earlier this month and looked forward to the UAE’s hosting of a major conference on piracy in September. In this context, they noted the UAE and UK’s decision to jointly finance a project for preventing sexual violence in Somalia.
With regard to the Middle East Peace Process, the Ministers agreed that it would be important to support efforts by the US Secretary of State John Kerry to bring both sides to the table. On Yemen, both Ministers welcomed the ongoing leadership being shown by President Hadi and emphasized the importance of them adhering to the timetable set out in the GCC initiative that was agreed by all parties.
Finally, the Ministers reiterated their strong commitment to helping to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria, and the importance of making progress towards this in the upcoming Geneva Conference. They underlined the need for the Syrian Opposition Coalition to fully reflect Syria’s religious and ethnic diversity in its membership, and to unite behind a clear agenda for the Geneva meeting.