Friendship thrives as UAE foreign minister meets US secretary of state

Visit concluded aviation agreement and praised progress in North Korea and decision on Iran nuclear deal

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan at the Department of State in Washington, DC, on May 14, 2018. / AFP / JIM WATSON

In his first visit to Washington since last June, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, met his United States counterpart Mike Pompeo to conclude an aviation agreement and discuss global and regional issues.

Sheikh Abdullah met Mr Pompeo at the State Department on Monday at the start of an official visit where he will also convene with high-level members of the Trump administration and members of Congress.

“You are wonderful partners of ours,” Mr Pompeo told his Emirati counterpart at the start of the meeting. “We concluded an agreement with respect to the airlines. which the American industry is so happy with, thank you for working so hard personally on that.”

Mr Pompeo said of the civil aviation agreement: “It’s a good outcome for all concerned, and we are very pleased."

In his remarks, Sheikh Abdullah thanked the US secretary of state “for being a great partner” and congratulated him on the position and his recent successes. The UAE foreign minister mentioned the progress made in the North Korea talks ahead of leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump's meeting on June 12, and the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

He added that on the bilateral level “we have done an amazing job in last couple of months”, including the aviation agreement.

The aviation deal announced on Monday preserves the US-UAE open skies agreement, acknowledging that many airlines are supported by the government and committing to financial transparency.

“Aviation is at the centre of a UAE-US trade and commercial relationship that generates enormous benefits for both countries. Today’s announcement confirms business as usual by validating all of the rights and benefits – including ‘Fifth Freedom’ services – of the 2002 Air Transport Agreement between the two countries. UAE and US airlines will continue to have complete commercial flexibility to add or adjust service to meet travellers needs” Sheikh Abdullah said.

The State Department praised the agreement for seeking to level the playing field. It said in a statement that “the two governments recognise the possible adverse impact of government support on competition. They express their understanding that financial transparency is best served when airlines issue annual financial reports audited in accordance with internationally recognised accounting standards.”

Sheikh Abdullah is also expected to meet US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and members of US Congress.