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UAE Foreign Minister visit to Australia

4 February 2010

Media release

United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, is visiting Australia from Sunday 30 January to Friday 5 February.

I held bilateral talks with Sheikh Abdullah in Canberra on Wednesday 3 February and will accompany him on his calls in Sydney on Friday 5 February.

This is Sheikh Abdullah’s first visit to Australia and represents a significant milestone in Australia-UAE relations. Sheikh Abdullah’s visit comes at a time when relations between our two countries have never been stronger.

The UAE is Australia’s largest merchandise trading partner in the Middle East. Its strong economic growth has created significant business opportunities and resulted in substantial commercial ties with Australia.

The UAE is a country of strategic importance and influence in the Gulf region. We exchange perspectives on regional and global issues and share a commitment to stability in the Middle East.  

I look forward to discussing with Sheikh Abdullah recent developments in the region.

Australia thanks the UAE for hosting ADF elements, including the Australian National Headquarters for the Middle East. This support contributes materially towards international campaigns against terrorism, countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden and providing maritime security in the region.

The UAE is playing a growing role in renewable energy. Australia supported the recent decision by the international community to locate the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi. Australia looks forward to further cooperation with the UAE on renewable energy and climate change issues.

We are working with the UAE and other Gulf countries to conclude an Australia-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which will further expand trade and investment opportunities.

Our engagement with the GCC will be further enhanced by the new Foreign Ministerial-level dialogue between Australia and the Gulf states, due to be held this year.

During my visit to the UAE in March 2009, Foreign Minister Abdullah and I agreed to establish regular bilateral consular dialogue between Australia and the UAE.

Last night we signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Consular Affairs.

Over 15,000 Australians are living and working in the UAE and more than 600 Australian companies do business there.

Given these strong people to people links, and important business and investment links, it is important that we cooperate closely on consular matters.

The MOU will provide a framework for consular officials to meet annually and exchange information.

On Friday, I will join Sheikh Abdullah at the second Australia-UAE Dialogue at Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains. The second Dialogue hosted by the Lowy Institute follows the inaugural Dialogue that His Highness and I attended in Abu Dhabi in March 2009.

The Dialogue will bring together eminent Australians and Emiratis from all sectors to generate fresh ideas for bilateral cooperation, forge new personal connections between our two countries and discuss common challenges.

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