H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed hopeful of positive outcome from Astana and Geneva negotiations.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, expressed his hope that efforts being made by Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt regarding Astana and Geneva negotiations on the Syrian crisis would yield fruits.

”To return to the previous situation in Syria, we need a two-pronged solution: a political one, and the other calls for exiting of parties that seek to undermine the sovereignty and prestige of the Syrian state and here I am speaking frankly and clearly about Iran and Turkey,” H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said during a joint press conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.

”If Iran and Turkey continued to pursue the same policy and the historic, colonial or rivalry perspective towards Arab issues, such a situation would continue whether in Syria or other countries,” he said.

He stated that UAE-Russia ties were evolving steadily with two-way trade exchange reaching US$2.1 billion last year.

”We expect bilateral co-operation to further expand driven by more tourists coming to the UAE. Last year, we welcomed 350,000 Russian visitors. The UAE is currently hosting 16,000 Russian residents,” he added.

He told reporters that talks between His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Lavrov were important and provided an opportunity to discuss bilateral relations as well as a wide range of regional and international issues of common concern.

”The meeting offered an ideal opportunity to explore the possibilities of enhancing joint co-operation in political, economic, military, security and cultural spheres as well as the latest developments in Yemen, Syria and Libya,” he said.

In a reply to a question about North Korea, he said, the UAE affirms the importance of returning to negotiations between North Korea and neighbouring states. This escalating situation between North Korea on one side and Japan and South Korea on the other side should not continue as the former continues to violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.

”It is impossible to have a non-nuclear proliferation policy in a region and a different policy in another region,” he noted, emphasising that he agrees with Lavrov about the need for a peaceful solution to the issue without compromising the sovereignty of any state.

Speaking about the Syrian crisis, the UAE minister termed the Riyadh meetings with the attendance of delegates from Cairo and Moscow as ”important” and commended efforts made by the countries to convince these delegates to positively participate. However, he said that ”co-ordination of stances needs more time.”

”The call made by the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, for the Syrian opposition factions to unify their ranks is part of the success of the Astana and Geneva tracks. We ask them all to advance towards this path,” he said.

He called for further steps in co-ordination with efforts to confront terror organisations including Daesh and the Al-Nusra Front and to draw lessons from the success of de-escalation zones in Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted the steady progress towards elevation of UAE-Russia ties into a strategic partnership “We have discussed several key points of the bilateral agenda within the context of the joint understanding that we reached during the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Moscow last April. We underlined that firm progress had been made with regards to expanding bilateral ties into a strategic partnership. We value the commitment of our fellows in the UAE to continue joint work.” ”We have new avenues for joint co-operation as parliamentary relations are growing. Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of the Federal National Council, will represent the UAE at the 137th IPU Assembly and related events in St. Petersburg, Russia, next October,” he added.

He said trade, economic and investment relations have been developing well thanks to the UAE-Russia committee. ”Further steps have been taken to support companies to expand trade exchange and increase investment and co-operation in areas of energy, industry and banking,” he said.

Expressing his satisfaction at the increasing number of Russian tourists to the UAE, he said, ”Russian residents have valued the care and attention they receive during their stay in the UAE.” The Russian foreign minister affirmed that Russia and the UAE have identical positions in fighting terrorism vehemently and the need to suppress extremist and terrorist ideologies. He further informed that the UAE and Russian talks took stock of the latest developments in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq, in addition to finding a settlement to the Palestinian cause.

”The UAE and Russia maintain close approaches towards all these files and the two countries are keen to boost joint co-ordination towards all these issues,” he stressed.

Answering a question about Syria, the Russian minister noted the keenness to fully implement the UNSC Resolution 2254, which sets out a clear roadmap for a political settlement of the crisis along with the need to combat all terrorists who are entrenched in Syrian territories as well as those who have come to Syria from other countries.

The Syrian opposition is required to act realistically and stay away from the rhetoric of threatening to implement the resolution, he affirmed.

“The fate of Syria will be decided by the Syrians themselves. There should be no pre-conditions and both the government and the opposition should sit on the negotiating table to discuss the future of Syria,” he stated.

On North Korea’s nuclear missile programme, the Russian top diplomat said, “We are committed to all UNSC resolutions and we insist that North Korea and its neighbouring states fully respect them.”

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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