Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed arrives in Germany for official visit

The trip aims to strengthen close ties between Germany and the UAE

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Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, arrived in Berlin for an official two-day visit to Germany.

He met German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Bellevue Palace on Tuesday and is due to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.

Sheikh Mohamed and Mr Steinmeier discussed ways to strengthen already close relations between the two countries.

Sheikh Mohamed described the UAE and Germany as anchors of peace and stability in their respective regions.

"[We are] partners in the drive toward boosting tolerance and co-existence among human beings," he said.

"The UAE attaches special importance to its relations with Germany and is keen on enhancing ties between the two countries, especially in the areas related to economy, technology, innovation, scientific research among others."

Mr Steinmeier accompanied Sheikh Mohamed on a tour of the palace.

The visit comes days after German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited the UAE as part of a regional tour to discuss recent tension with Iran.

Mr Maas was in Tehran on Monday where he discussed the future of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. He said his country would do its utmost to ensure tension do not escalate.

While in Abu Dhabi, Mr Maas commented on Sheikh Mohamed’s impending visit by highlighting the crucial role the UAE has played in the region.

“The visit of the Crown Prince highlights our common interests about topics affecting the region and our bilateral ties, and is due to play a crucial role,” he said on Monday alongside Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.

“You are a hub in the region that many countries look to, so we are counting on the constructive steps your country has taken to the Gulf Co-operation Council.”

The UAE is Germany’s closest trade partner in the Gulf, followed by Saudi Arabia, and is home to more than 900 German companies across a wide range of sectors.

“There are strong bilateral trade relations between the two countries and over a quarter of German trade with Arab countries is with the UAE,” the UAE’s Foreign Ministry said.

The UAE's ambassador to Germany, Ali Al Ahmed, described the relationship between the two nations as "distinguished".

''The UAE has been the largest trade partner of Germany in the Middle East for more than 10 years, with 30 per cent of German trade with Arab countries passing through the UAE,'' Mr Al Ahmed said.

He said the historic partnership was based on ''strong confidence''.

Sheikh Mohamed’s visit comes after a series of attacks on UAE and Saudi Arabian interests that increased long-standing tension between Iran, the US and its allies in the Gulf.


UAE-Germany ties - in pictures


The attack last month on tankers in UAE territorial waters near the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial transit point for global energy supplies shipped from the Arabian Gulf, was blamed on Tehran by US officials.

“Germany has said numerous times that the role of Iran in the region is something that we see as problematic,” Mr Maas said during his visit to the UAE. “The ballistic missile programme is problematic.”

He also stressed the importance of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Germany is a signatory to the accord but US President Donald Trump pulled America out of the pact last year.

Germany's ambassador to the UAE, Ernst Fischer, said Sheikh Mohamed's visit would strengthen joint diplomatic efforts to find solutions to regional and international issues

"We agree that there are no military solutions to any of the regional problems," Mr Fischer said on Monday.

"Both countries know that diplomacy first is the only way to achieve sustainable, peaceful solutions."