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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 12, 1998


U.S.-UAE Relations

At the invitation of President Clinton, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is visiting Washington, where he met with the President in the Oval Office today. Crown Prince Shaikh Khalifa conveyed the greetings of H.H. President Shaikh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the people of the UAE to President Clinton and the American people. The Crown Prince then met separately with Vice President Gore, who hosted a working lunch. He is due to meet later with key Cabinet members and Congressional leaders.

The relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America is defined by strong bilateral ties. Today, this relationship has expanded greatly to include mutually productive cooperation in the fields of commerce, educational exchange, and security. The present close ties have become instrumental in safeguarding the security and stability of the Gulf region.

Over the past decades, the two sides have forged substantial economic links as a result of numerous initiatives by government and private sectors on both sides. Thousands of Americans live and work in the United Arab Emirates; thousands of UAE nationals study in the United States, and thousands more visit here each year. The UAE has become the United States' second-largest market in the Gulf region. Growing numbers of American firms are doing business and are based in the UAE because of its excellent infrastructure and welcoming environment.

While the regional environment has spawned a number of new threats in the last three decades, the strategic consultations between the UAE and the United States remain a key factor in securing the national interests of both countries. The signing of the 1994 Defense Cooperation Agreement is indicative of the strength of the relationship between the two sides.

Both sides agreed to encourage trade, investment, economic, and cultural cooperation and in this context, agreed on the desirability of reaching mutual agreements to cover these topics.

The two sides discussed recent developments in Iran. They shared the hope that the new Iranian leadership would change those policies that threaten the peace and stability of the region; at the same time, they agreed that the new Iranian Government has yet to prove it has abandoned its threatening policies. An important issue that remains unresolved is the continued occupation by Iran of three islands, Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb. The UAE and the United States continue to reiterate their call for the peaceful resolution of the issue either through bilateral talks or through the International Court of Justice.

Both governments expressed great sympathy for the Iraqi people and call upon Iraq to comply fully with all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions. The two sides agreed that UN Security Council Resolutions must be enforced. They also made it clear that the Iraqi Government bears full responsibility for the misery of the Iraqi people.

Both sides affirmed that there is an urgent need to achieve genuine progress in the Arab-Israeli peace process in order to reach a lasting, comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East. Such a comprehensive peace should be based upon UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the land-for-peace principle in addition to the fulfillment by both sides of their obligations under the Oslo Accords. The UAE side expressed its concern about the Israeli Government's policy toward the peace process and the rights of the Palestinian people. The two sides also agreed on the importance of achieving progress on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks.

Today, Crown Prince Khalifa and Vice President Gore announced the UAE's acquisition of 80 F-l6 Block 60 fighters from the United States as a significant step towards strengthening the UAE's defense capabilities. In essence, the deal will enable the UAE to achieve a credible and effective defense through the establishment of a conventional deterrent capability based on quality. This acquisition will allow the two countries not only to add a significant stabilizing element to the overall strategic balance in the region but also to further strengthen and fortify the already close security relations between the two countries.

President Clinton conveyed his sincere greetings to the President of the UAE, His Highness Shaikh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan, wishing him good health and long life.

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