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Abdullah bin Zayed, Angolan President discuss bilateral relations

WAM Luanda, March 19th, 2013 (WAM) President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the President of Angola, received at the presidential palace today HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is visiting Angola as part of his African tour with a view to strengthening bilateral relations between the UAE and the continent.

Sheikh Abdullah conveyed the best wishes of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for good health to the Angolan head of state and for more progress and prosperity to the people of Angola.

For his part, Dos Santos sent his regards to the UAE President, wishing the UAE and its leadership more progress and welfare.

During the meeting, Sheikh Abdullah and the Angolan President reviewed bilateral cooperation and ways of strengthening UAE-Angolan relations to serve the interests of the two countries. They exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The Angolan President welcomed Sheikh Abdullah and the accompanying delegation, expressing the hope that the visit would have fruitful results in the best interest of the two friendly countries. Hamad Al Habsi, UAE Ambassador to Ethiopia and Non-resident Ambassador to Angola, and Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti Al Maktoum, Assistant Director of the Foreign Minister’s Office, were present at the meeting.

Sheikh Abdullah and the accompanying delegation also held separate meetings with Georges Rebelo Chikoti, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abrah?o Pio dos Santos Gourgel, Minister of Economy, Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos, Minister of Petroleum, Joao Baptista Borges, Minister of Energy and Water and Fernando Alberto de Lemos Soares da Fonseca, Minister of Public Works.

During the meetings, the two sides discussed bilateral relations and ways to develop economic, trade, cultural and investment ties and to enhance cooperation in the energy field and many other areas of mutual interest.

In an interview with the Pan-African news Agency, PANA, Sheikh Abdullah said that his visit had the objectives of discussing the potential for collaboration on regional and global issues and of helping to promote bilateral trade and investment.

The UAE, he said, sees considerable potential for the development of economic ties with the African continent, for mutual benefit, citing the rapid development now under way in much of the continent.

The full text of the interview follows.

You are about to start upon a three-country tour of Africa, visiting Angola, Zambia, and Ethiopia. Can you explain the general objectives of this tour? My last major tour of Africa was in 2009 and I have been keen to do this trip for some time. I have a number of overall objectives.

The first is to explore opportunities for collaboration on issues of global and regional concern, whether that be security in the Horn of Africa or how to tackle climate change and its effects.

My second objective is to help to promote trade and investment between the UAE and the countries I am visiting. Trade and investment generates benefits for all of the parties involved, and sometimes governments can facilitate this by working together to create the right conditions for businesses to operate in.

And finally, I want to learn about and from Africa and the people of the countries I am visiting. I never cease to feel fortunate that I am in a job that allows me to interact with and learn from such a wide diversity of people with their unique histories and perspectives.

2. Are there any particular topics you plan to discuss in each of the countries you are visiting or any bilateral agreements that will be signed? On the economic side, I will be discussing what opportunities there might be for investment from the UAE as well as, in some cases, how we might increase the aviation links between our countries. Where relevant, I will also look to take forward bilateral agreements that help to facilitate investment. A number of agreements are under discussion and I am confident that we will make some concrete progress on this trip.

On the political and security side, I hope to have discussions about how we can work together, and with the African Union, to address some of the challenges in Africa, especially in the region closest to the UAE the Horn of Africa. I will also be interested in my interlocutors views on how we tackle global issues such as climate change.

The UAE provides a significant amount of aid to Africa, which is in recognition of the humanitarian and development challenges that many African countries face.

The United Arab Emirates has expanded its engagement with the African continent, particularly with sub-Saharan countries, in recent years. What are the reasons for this new approach? It is no secret that Africa is rising fast. The last decade has seen rapid economic growth across the continent, driven in part by commodities but also in areas like telecoms, aviation and banking. Foreign Direct Investment grew from US$9 billion in 2000 to US$52 billion in 2011.

Going forward, the future looks even brighter. According to some estimates, Sub-Saharan Africa s population is expected to double from 1.1bn to 2.3bn by 2050 and half of all Africans are currently under 20 years of age. 21 African countries are already at middle income, and 10 more are expected to reach middle income status by 2025.

In all of this the UAE sees great hope for Africa as well as the opportunity to do business with African countries, for our mutual benefit. And as a government Minister, it is my job to work with African governments to examine how we can create the right conditions to encourage bilateral trade and investment.

But this doesn t stop at economic cooperation. There are important political issues on which the UAE and countries in Africa can collaborate. A recent example of this has been the collaboration in support of Somalia and in tackling the scourge of piracy. But there will be many other issues on which we can collaborate.

4. What scope do you see for the further development of relations with the continent in political and economic terms? The UAE s total trade with three countries that I am visiting on this trip grew dramatically between 2000 and 2011. That gives you a sense of the potential and I see no reason why our economic relations cannot continue to grow at a rapid pace. The economic future looks bright for many countries in Africa, just as it does for the UAE.

In parallel with this, I expect the UAE s political cooperation with African countries to expand. Given our observer status at the African Union and the fact that we are progressively opening new embassies in various African countries, we are gradually putting in place the mechanisms for deepening our relations with the continent.

WAM/TF WAM 1911 2013/03/19 END WAM/TF

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