Sheikh Khalifa starts 'historic' UK visit

Queen hosts banquet in honour of UAE President

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has begun here today his two-day state visit to the United Kingdom at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

With the focal event of the day being a formal state banquet at Windsor Castle, HH the President was first visited at his private residence at Richmond, just west of London, by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

Members of the official British party escorting HH Sheikh Khalifa were introduced by the Duke of York to the President, following which HH Sheikh Khalifa and the Duke, with the UAE delegation accompanying the President and British escorts, left by car for the short journey to the outskirts of the town of Windsor.

There the President was met at midday by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at a specially-erected royal saluting platform on Datchet Road facing  the imposing historic castle, which has been a royal residence for nearly 1,000 years.

Two royal gun salutes were then fired, one of 21 guns, by the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, inside the grounds of Windsor Castle, and the other, of 41 guns,  by the Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest regiment in the British Army,  at the historic Tower of London, in central London.

The President was then introduced by the Queen to a number of local civic officials, after which the Sovereign's Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, gave a Royal Salute and the UAE national anthem was played.    

The Queen and Sheikh Khalifa, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, were then escorted to an open horse-drawn carriage for a procession through the streets of Windsor, escorted by the Sovereign's Escort  

Other members of the UAE delegation and senior British officials followed in other carriages.

As the procession commenced, the UAE and British national anthems were played.  

Soldiers from the Grenadier Guards and the Scots Guards, two of the most famous regiments in the British Army lined the streets in the town, which were decorated with the UAE and British flags, while townspeople and tourists watched the procession, applauding.

The carriage procession then entered Windsor Castle, coming to a halt in the Quadrangle, where a Guard of Honour of the Welsh Guards was awaiting.

The national anthems of both countries were then played again, as the Queen, the President and the Duke of Edinburgh took their places on the royal dais. 

Sheikh Khalifa, accompanied by the Duke, then inspected the Guard of Honour, following which there was a ride-past by the Mounted Band of the Lifeguards, the King's Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery  and the Sovereign's Escort of the Household Cavalry. 

Queen Elizabeth then introduced HH Sheikh Khalifa to senior members of the royal household.

Members of the UAE delegation were then introduced by the President.

The UAE President is accompanied by a high ranking  delegation including Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of the Emirates Group, Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Cooperation, Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, Ahmed Juma Al Zaabi, Deputy Minister of Presidential Affairs, Khaldoun Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Staff Major General Eisa Saif Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Deputy Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces, and Abdul Rahman Al Mutaiwee, the UAE Ambassador to the UK.

Queen Elizabeth II hosts banquet in honour of the UAE President

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, today attended a formal state banquet hosted in his honour by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at Windsor Castle, her residence west of London.

It was the first formal engagement of the President's state visit to the United Kingdom, which began this morning.

The banquet  was attended by the delegation accompanying the UAE President and by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen's consort, as well as by other members of the British royal family, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, other British ministers  and senior  officials.

The UAE President introduced the members of the official delegation accompanying him to Queen Elizabeth and the Duke, while guests from the British side were also introduced to the President.

In a speech of welcome, the Queen said that she was 'delighted' to welcome Sheikh Khalifa.

"Our two countries have been close friends since before the foundation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, under the wise guidance and leadership of your late father, Sheikh Zayed," she said.

Saying that she and her husband fondly recalled their visits to the UAE in 1979 and 2010, she added "We were struck by the warmth of the welcome we received and the generosity of Emirati culture. "

Queen Elizabeth went on to tell the President that "your visit this week is a chance to celebrate the depth of our partnership - a partnership that continues to grow and strengthen."

"This has never been truer than it is today and I am delighted with how our ties have developed, spearheaded by the UK-UAE Taskforce. And I look forward to these ties deepening as we develop our strategic partnership for the next generation. "

"Co-operation between our two nations, " the Queen continued, "now ranges from our thriving educational and tourism links, joint defence projects, security and foreign policy issues, to our increasing investment in each other's economies. The UAE is one of our largest trading partners in the Gulf region, and we have welcomed Emirati investments in the United Kingdom in many areas from the construction of the largest port facilities in the UK to the Emirates Skyline, the spectacular cable-car crossing over the (River) Thames and, of course, Manchester City."

"Our friendship," Queen Elizabeth added, "draws strength from the continuing links between our Royal Families, our governments, and our peoples. And it is based on a shared sense of ambition. "

"I hope, Your Highness," she told Sheikh Khalifa, "that as a result of this visit, our two nations will build on this historical and successful foundation and continue to work together to create a more productive and secure future."

She concluded by proposing a toast "to His Highness the President and to the health and prosperity of the people of the United Arab Emirates."

In response, HH President Sheikh Khalifa expressed his "very great pleasure" at joining the Queen for the occasion, thanking her "for your kindness and your most courteous invitation."

"As the long-standing and historical relationship between our two countries continues to develop positively in all fields, I would like to express my deep gratitude for your cordial visit to the United Arab Emirates in 2010, which left such a good impression on us."

"We shall strive to develop further the long-established bilateral relations that exist between the United Arab Emirates in all fields, in order to achieve the interests of our two friendly countries," Sheikh Khalifa said.

"Indeed, it is my hope that this current visit serves to reinforce our deep-rooted and steadfast friendship that has continued for many years."

"Your Majesty," he added, "please allow me to express once again my delight with this visit, as well as my confidence in the future prospects of the distinguished bilateral relations between our two friendly nations."

President HH Sheikh Khalifa concluded by inviting guests to make a toast to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and to the health and prosperity of the people of the United Kingdom.

Music during the banquet was provided by the band of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. 

Following the banquet and an exchange of gifts, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh accompanied the President to the Sovereign's Entrance to Windsor Castle to bid him farewell.

A royal salute was sounded and the Windsor Castle Guard presented arms as the President passed. He later returned to his private residence in Richmond.

MoUs on creation of ‘Dialogue of Values’ and ‘Qualification of Frameworks’ signed

The governments of the UAE and Britain on Wednesday signed two memoranda of understanding on the creation of a ‘Dialogue of Values’ and ‘Qualification of Frameworks’.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, signed on behalf of the UAE, while Foreign Secretary William Hague signed on behalf of Britain.

The two memoranda were signed as part of the state visit of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the United Kingdom.

The ‘Dialogue of Values’ will be supervised by the UAE-UK Taskforce, jointly chaired by Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Alistair Burt, British Parliamentary Under Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

The first meeting will be held this month, with follow-up meetings at six-monthly intervals. The discussions will strengthen cultural and political understanding between the UAE and the UK, as well as exploring the developments in the Middle East and North Africa.

Under the terms of the memorandum on qualifications, the two sides will prepare a list on quality institutions in both countries to promote understanding and achieve partnership and ensure quality. They will also exchange information about the qualifications endorsed by the higher education institutions in both countries. The two sides will work to set the content of the education programmes. They will inform each other about symposia, training sessions and mutual visits in both countries.

Sheikh Abdulla held talks with Hague in London on Wednesday on ways to strengthen the relations between the two friendly countries.

The two sides also discussed the political and security situations in the region in the light of political developments in the Arab world.

The UAE Foreign Minister said the UAE President's visit to the UK and the talks held on Tuesday between Sheikh Khalifa and Queen Elizabeth, as well as the two memoranda of understanding, will contribute to the shared desire to strengthen relations.

He expressed his satisfaction at the cooperation and historic friendship between the two countries.

For his part, the British Foreign Secretary praised the relations between the UAE and the UK, citing their cooperation on a number of issues of common interest.



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