US secretary of state arrives in Abu Dhabi to offer condolences on Sheikh Khalifa's death

US Vice President Kamala Harris will arrive in the emirate on Monday afternoon

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday morning to offer his condolences after the death of the President, Sheikh Khalifa.

He joins a host other world leaders and diplomats who have travelled to the emirate to express their grief, as well as to congratulate President, Sheikh Mohamed on his election.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris landed briefly in Germany on Monday morning, before continuing her journey to the UAE.

Ms Harris will lead the US delegation, which includes other high-level officials, such as Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, CIA director Bill Burns, climate envoy John Kerry, national security adviser to the vice president Philip Gordon, White House Middle East co-ordinator Brett McGurk, White House senior director for the Middle East and North Africa Barbara Leaf, and Charge d’Affaires ad interim at the US Embassy Abu Dhabi Sean Murphy.

The vice president's official plane, Air Force 2, stopped for about 90 minutes at the US-operated Ramstein airbase in Germany in the early hours of Monday for refuelling. It is expected to touch down in Abu Dhabi on Monday afternoon.

“I’m leading a delegation on behalf of the president and our administration to express our condolences," Ms Harris said before departing from the US military airport, Joint Base Andrews.

"The United States takes quite seriously the strength of our relationship and partnership with the UAE and we are going there then to express our condolences but also as an expression of our commitment to the strength of that relationship and continuing to strengthen that relationship," a senior administration official said in a statement.

"The US vice president believes it is important to travel to Abu Dhabi and offer condolences in person to demonstrate the support of President Biden, the Biden-Harris Administration, and the American.

"Sheikh Khalifa was a longtime friend of the United States, and this delegation both honours his legacy and points confidently to the future of relations between the US and UAE.

"The Vice President looks forward to further strengthening the US-UAE partnership under Sheikh Mohammed’s leadership, and will emphasise the Biden-Harris administration’s intent to deepen bilateral ties across the fields of security, climate, space, technology, education, energy, and commerce," said the official.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the death of Sheikh Khalifa.

Sheikh Khalifa was a true partner and friend of the United States throughout his decades-long tenure as President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and in his earlier role as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi,” Mr Biden said.

The UAE is a top regional trading partner for the US, with more than $23 billion in total bilateral trade last year. It is also the single largest export market in the Middle East and North Africa region, and more than 1,000 US companies operate in the country. The UAE is the top Arab investor in the US, with close to $44.7bn invested, supporting more than 17,700 jobs, including in the renewables and semi-conductor sectors.

Updated: May 17, 2022, 6:51 AM
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