UAE does not point fingers of accusation at any state for tankers' attack: Abdullah bin Zayed

The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday that circumstantial and compelling evidence is needed to apportion blame for the last month's attacks on four oil tankers in the country's territorial waters.

"The UAE is not pointing fingers of accusation at any state for the recent attacks on four oil tankers in the country’s territorial waters since clear, scientific and convincing evidence is required to do that. Should any other country have clearer evidence, the international community would certainly take it into consideration," H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said in a joint press conference he held today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, during his current official visit to Russia.

"We are living in a turbulent region. A region that is crucial to the world and we don’t desire more volatilities and tensions, as we rather are seeking more stability and development," he added.

"We will continue our commitment to professionalism on this issue. We have already presented the findings of our first probe to the Security Council. The three states concerned with the issue, namely UAE, Norway and Saudi Arabia, issued their statement which has also been sent to the International Maritime Organisation. We defined the attacks as aggressions that were most probably carried out by actors with a considerable amount of intelligence and technical expertise."

Sheikh Abdullah added that the US Secretary of State was in the UAE a few days ago and "we discussed during his visit a number of issues, including the situation with Iran."

"The focus is now being laid on the importance of expanding international engagement in ensuring protection for vessels passing through these crucial waterways, including those in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hurmuz, and Arabian Sea. However, these are preliminary consultations that require the participation of not only the regional states but also the oil exporters and importers," Sheikh Abdullah added.

"Any activity in this regard is aimed at protecting these waterways and ships, not further than that," he affirmed.

On Yemen, Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE hopes 2019 "will see an end to the war and the start of a comprehensive peace process. We have reiterated our support for the continued efforts made by the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, and we think the Stockholm Agreement is one of several steps that should be taken on this score."

He underlined the importance of developing trade relations between UAE and Russia.

"Last year, the trade exchange hiked 35 percent to US3.4 billion. We hope more work would be done toward this direction. A total of 96 flights are operated between the two countries during this summer, which underscores the necessity of promoting cooperation between the civil aviation departments in both sides so as to reflect the growing interest held by the two countries to develop tourism and trade."

Sheikh Abdullah also expressed hope for a successful and expanded participation of Russia in EXPO 2020 Dubai.

"Cooperation is tremendously growing between the two countries at multiple fronts and therefore, we had proposed to expand our cooperation to the space field. We are delighted that within less than100 days, an Emirati astronaut will accompany his Russian counterpart in a new partnership that we are immensely interested in."

For his part, the Russian top diplomat reiterated the distinguished relations between the two countries, noting that the discussions with Sheikh Abdullah covered a number of issues, including counterterrorism, illegal arms trade and the situation in the Middle East, Libya and Syria.

"We had detailed discussions on the Palestinian cause and we agreed that the solution to this issue should be based on relevant UNSC resolutions and in line with the Arab Initiative," the Russian top diplomat added.

"We also reviewed the situation in the Gulf region. We are interested in de-escalting tension in this international crucial region. We shed light on the Russian initiative to launch dialogue between the Gulf States and Iran, which we think is the solution to maintain security in the region. Dialogue always helps find solutions to differences and contradictions and represents a good opportunity for all parties concerned."

The Russian minister hosted a luncheon in honour of Sheikh Abdullah and his accompanying delegation.

The UAE ambassador to Russia Maadhad Hareb Alkhyeli, attended the meeting between the two top diplomats.

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