The fourteenth meeting of the UAE-UK Taskforce was hosted on 2nd September in Abu Dhabi by Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. The UK was represented by Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Mr Tobias Ellwood MP.
Mr. Ellwood took the opportunity to thank again the UAE for helping the British hostage in Yemen return home.
The two Ministers agreed the importance of continued collaboration on the key political and security challenges facing the world today, and highlighted that a stable and prosperous Middle East was in all our interests. Ministers praised the strong cooperation between their two countries, and re-affirmed the need to: pursue a political solution in Yemen and address the humanitarian situation there; reach agreement on a Government of National Accord in Libya and encourage all parties to support the political process, especially in light of atrocities committed by violent extremist groups there; and collaborate ever more closely and effectively in the fight against Daesh, in particular by countering the group’s propaganda in the online space. The Taskforce shared concerns about the continuing instability in the Horn of Africa.
The Taskforce reviewed cooperation between the UK and the UAE on humanitarian issues. Mr Ellwood welcomed the UAE’s humanitarian assistance to Yemen.
Dr Gargash confirmed that the UAE remained committed towards the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, on which the UAE and UK have agreed to co-fund a project in Somalia.
The Ministers discussed climate change, emphasising the need for a robust climate deal in Paris in December.
The Ministers welcomed UAE-UK cooperation on law enforcement and efforts to deepen it further, especially on: recovering proceeds of crime, terrorist financing, money laundering and extradition. They looked forward to the forthcoming WeProtect Summit, to be held in November 2015 in Abu Dhabi, which will follow the summit held in London last December.
The Ministers agreed the need to swiftly conclude a UK-UAE Double Taxation Agreement to assist bilateral trade and investment.
The Ministers looked forward to the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding between the UAE and UK Space Agencies. They also expressed support for fair and open competition in the aviation industry.
Consular and visa matters were discussed, and the Ministers welcomed and encouraged the work of the UAE-UK Consular Committee. The ministers also acknowledged the success of the electronic visa waiver system for Emirati citizens launched by the UK in January 2014, and looked forward to a more streamlined system.
Educational and cultural cooperation also featured on the agenda. The Ministers discussed the prospects for enhancing cultural exchanges between the two countries. They also agreed the need to improve the process for recognition of qualifications and to secure federal accreditation of degrees from UK branch campuses in the UAE.
Speaking after the Taskforce, Dr. Gargash said, "Our regular Taskforce meetings are an important channel of communication between our countries. As we continue working together to address important challenges, the UAE remains committed to partnering with the UK to promote greater prosperity for both of our nations".
Mr Ellwood said, "This meeting of the UK/UAE Taskforce was very productive. I value highly our discussion of such a broad range of topics, and our review of collaboration in many areas of common interest. These discussions underlined the importance of working closely together to tackle threats and challenges in the region and beyond." –End-