Bush visit to boost US trade and military ties with UAE

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Abu Dhabi, Jan 13 (UNI) Visiting US President George W Bush today held wide-ranging talks with the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Al Mushref Palace here on ways to boost bilateral relations with the oil-rich Gulf state in various domains, including trade and military.

Sheikh Khalifa welcomed Mr Bush, hailing ''the growing relations between the two friendly countries in all fields, particularly in political, economic, military and cultural spheres.'' He reiterated the UAE's keenness to bolster its distinguished economic partnership with the US, being the major economic partner in the Arabian Gulf region.

Latest developments in the region also figured high during the talks between the two leaders.

The US President reiterated the significance of UAE-US relations in all fields, particularly, economic, political and military fields, adding that ''the US administration is looking forward to further boost and expand joint cooperation and coordination.'' The two heads of state discussed a wide-range of issues pertinent to maintaining security and stability in the Arabian Gulf region, situation in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, in addition to other topics in regard to fighting terrorism.

Talks also touched on latest developments in regards to the West Asian peace process in the light of Mr Bush's tour of the region and his talks with Palestinian, Israeli and Arab leaders.

''The UAE is a partner in the anti-terror campaign and will do whatever possible to achieve stability and development in the region and world as well,'' Sheikh Khalifa said, highlighting the role of US in maintaining security in the Arabian Gulf region and activating West Asian peace as per Mr Bush's vision of setting up a viable Palestinian state based on the road map and the Arab Peace Initiative.

For his part, the US President expressed his pleasure at visiting the UAE. He also acknowledged the regional and international position the UAE has gained and economic boom it has achieved, which he termed as an example to be emulated, the official WAM news agency said.

Mr Bush also highlighted the UAE's role in maintaining regional and international security and peace.

According to UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, trade exchange between the two countries touched 13 billion dollars in 2006 and there are 750 US companies operating in the UAE.

The talks were attended from the UAE side by Vice President, Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan and a number of Sheikhs, ministers and senior officials.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other members of the delegation accompanying Mr Bush also attended the talks.

UNI XC SKB KN1827

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