Biden leads US tributes to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa

Former US president Jimmy Carter says he and wife Rosalynn 'join the Al Nahyan family and the Emirati people in mourning his passing'

US President Joe Biden has described the death of Sheikh Khalifa as a 'great loss'. AP
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US President Joe Biden said he and the first lady Jill Biden were “deeply saddened” to learn of the death of the UAE's President, Sheikh Khalifa.

The UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced the death of Sheikh Khalifa on Friday. He was 73.

“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 on Friday.

“On behalf of the American people, I offer my condolences to Sheikh Khalifa’s family and all Emiratis as they mourn this great loss.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Mr Biden called Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, by phone on Friday to express his condolences.

“The two leaders agreed to honour Sheikh Khalifa’s memory by continuing to strengthen ties between governments and people of the United States and the UAE,” Ms Psaki said.

Barbara Leaf, who served as the US ambassador to the UAE from December 2014 to March 2018, paid tribute to Sheikh Khalifa and his role in deepening relations between the two countries.

“He was held in the highest regard and esteem by many people who dealt with him over the years,” Ms Leaf told The National.

“His time in office as President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi also coincided with a period of deepening of our own bilateral relationship and of course of Abu Dhabi's central rise in [its] economic-political profile.

“It was clear to me in my time there that he was very much a figure that was front and centre in people's minds, even if he was not visibly on the scene. So, it's certainly a period of mourning that we share with the Emirati people.”

Vice President Kamala Harris also sent expressions of condolence on behalf of herself and her husband, Doug Emhoff.

“Under Sheikh Khalifa’s leadership, the strong partnership between the United States and the UAE has enhanced the security and prosperity of the American and Emirati people, and we are grateful for our work together across multiple administrations,” her statement read.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also offered his condolences to the UAE.

“We deeply valued his support in building the extraordinary partnership our countries enjoy today. We mourn his passing, honour his legacy and remain committed to our steadfast friendship and co-operation with the United Arab Emirates,” Mr Blinken said.

Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin praised the US-UAE security partnership.

“We are grateful for the President’s steadfast commitment to regional stability and security and will honour his legacy through our strong defence partnership with the United Arab Emirates,” Mr Austin said.

Former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn said they were saddened to learn of Sheikh Khalifa's death.

“Sheikh Khalifa’s leadership was instrumental in the growth and modernisation of the United Arab Emirates and in its becoming a strong ally of the United States,” they said in a statement.

Updated: May 13, 2022, 10:30 PM