H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has underlined the importance of the longstanding strategic partnership binding the UAE and France since 1971.
"The UAE and France have been enjoying robust strategic partnership since 1971 and what have jointly been achieved ever since by the two countries are a source of pride," the country's top diplomat said at a news conference following a meeting with France's Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian.
"It's my sincere pleasure meeting with His Excellency the French Minister a few days after our meeting in Paris," he said, adding, "Our agenda is always replete with issues and challenges."
"UAE and France are bound by longstanding strategic relations. I have a personal friendship of fellowship with the French Minister. His Excellency represents an ally for the UAE. We truly appreciate French President Macron's sincere interest in growing relations with the UAE at the official and popular levels."
He added that the UAE represents a preferred tourist and investment destination for France, a fact, which, he said, is translated by the existence of around 56 weekly flights between the two countries.
"President Macron celebrated with us the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2017. We are also delighted at the growing development at Sorbonne University-Abu Dhabi as well as INSEAD UAE Business School and the French Fashion Institute ESMOD, which all translate the robust, diverse relations between the two countries," Sheikh Abdullah added.
"At the political level, we are working intensively with France on addressing significant regional and international issues, including climate change. We are also working with France in conflict areas. And here I commend the French leadership on their determination to work on such challenging files. France is not only a Security Council member, but also a friend and an ally on which the UAE can rely on."
In conclusion, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah said that "there are few countries that we agree with, as we agree with France."
For his part, the French Minister expressed happiness at visiting the UAE for the 20th time.
"Such visits reflect the consolidated alliance between the two countries. The UAE is a key ally for France in the region and at the global stage. This visit occasions a significant opportunity for reviewing the current situation in the region which has been witnessing constant threats to and violations of security and stability. We hope to work with our allies in the UAE to ease tension in the region and prioritise once again diplomacy in order to pave the ground for peace through dialogue," he added.
"The two countries share common determination to counter-terrorism," he said, highlighting today's operation which resulted in the killing of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh, which, he described as a new decisive blow dealt with the terrorist organisation in the territories which it was controlling in the spring of last year.
"Such a development should motivate us to accelerate efforts to uproot terrorism. We commend the work done by the US and the Global Coalition Against Daesh in this respect. However the fight against Daesh is not over yet, and it has to continue," he affirmed.
The minister added that France and UAE share a common stance towards a series of global issues, like climate change. "Today we signed a letter of intent to establish a French-Emirati partnership in areas of sustainable development as well as fighting endemic illnesses. The UAE confirmed unprecedented contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS; and we both have a joint will to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of UN's 2030 Agenda. There are also many joint enterprises between the two countries."
With regards to his visit to the UAE, the French minister said it includes a tour of Louvre Abu Dhabi where he will attend a showcase to present 10,000 Years of Luxury, a ground-breaking exhibition that explores the history of luxury for the first time in the Middle East.
He will also visit the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi and open the new premises of Lycée Louis Massignon, which he said reflects France's keenness to reinforce its educational and cultural presence in the UAE where seven French schools are operating and delivering their message and culture in French to the Emirati youth and other residents of various nationalities living in the country.
"The challenge posed by education is a significant one as well as that represented by Francophone. And here I express my delight that the UAE has become a member of the International Organisation of Francophonie."
Sheikh Abdullah received his French counterpart earlier today and briefed him on the UAE's preparations for hosting the EXPO 2020 Dubai, saying the UAE is looking forward to a distinctive French presence in the World's Great Show which the UAE will host under the theme 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future'.
The two ministers also signed a letter of intent for establishing a UAE-French partnership on sustainable development.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah hosted a dinner banquet for the French minister and his accompanying delegation.
Attending the reception were Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, Omar Saif Ghobash, Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs, and Ludovic Pouille, the Ambassador of France to the UAE, along with a number of officials from the two sides.