Pope Francis will visit the UAE in February: Vatican City

Pope Francis will visit Abu Dhabi to take part in an international “interfaith” meeting. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 31 January 2019

Pope Francis will visit the UAE in February: Vatican City

  • Vatican said the pope had accepted an invitation from Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
  • Francis has already visited Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh and Azerbaijan, the Palestinian territories

ABU DHABI: Pope Francis will visit Abu Dhabi in the UAE in February, the Vatican said on Thursday, in his seventh trip to a predominantly Muslim nation to call for inter-religious peace.

The trip will take place from Feb. 3-5. The Vatican said the pope had accepted an invitation from Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the Catholic community there. He will attend an inter-faith meeting.

Crown Prince Mohammed said in a tweet that the pope "is a symbol of peace, tolerance and the promotion of brotherhood. We look forward to a historic visit, through which we will seek dialogue on the peaceful coexistence among peoples."

Pope Francis was quick in the months after his election in 2013 to make overtures to worshippers from other religions, inviting two old friends from Buenos Aires – a Rabbi and a Muslim professor – on a trip to the Middle East where he condemned religious hatred.

Francis has already visited Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh and Azerbaijan, the Palestinian territories and used those trips to call for inter-religious dialogue and to condemn the notion of violence in the name of God.

“The theme of the visit is 'Make Me a Channel of Your Peace' – and that's the Pope’s intention in going to the United Arab Emirates. How all people of goodwill can work for peace will be a major topic on this trip,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said.

The theme is taken from the opening words of the Prayer of Peace of Francis of Assisi, the saint whose name the pope took during his election ceremony.

“This visit, like the one to Egypt (in 2017), shows the fundamental importance the Holy Father gives to inter-religious dialogue. Pope Francis visiting the Arab world is a perfect example of the culture of encounter,” Burke said.

Bishop Paul Hinder of the Arabian Vicariate of Southern Arabia (UAE, Oman and Yemen) said: “I express my gratitude to the UAE government, which has made this visit possible. I urge the Christian community and our Catholic faithful that we respect and cooperate with the instructions of a special team, which is being put in place for the visit.

“The team will work closely with the government to ensure this visit goes smoothly and according to plan.

“The generosity of the UAE government has also been extended in making it possible to celebrate a Mass, which will be on February 5 at a public venue in Abu Dhabi. These are warm and kind gestures that we appreciate and acknowledge.”   

The pope's trip to the UAE will come ahead of a visit in March to Morocco.


Pompeo warns of ‘new turmoil’ if UN arms embargo on Iran lifted in 2020

Updated 21 August 2019

Pompeo warns of ‘new turmoil’ if UN arms embargo on Iran lifted in 2020

  • Under the Iran nuclear deal, a UN arms embargo on the country and a travel ban on Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani are due to expire next year
  • The Quds Force is the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, tagged by the US as a terrorist organization

UNITED NATIONS: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed the international community on Tuesday to work out how to stop Iran from being “unshackled to create new turmoil” when a United Nations arms embargo on the country and a travel ban on the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force expire in October 2020.
Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on Middle East peace and security challenges, Pompeo called for greater cooperation in the region to produce “fresh thinking to solve old problems,” citing problems including the Libyan and Syrian conflicts and a rift between several Gulf states and Qatar.
He also singled out Iran. Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since President Donald Trump’s administration last year quit an international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and began to ratchet up sanctions.
“Since the US declared our intention to bring all Iranian oil purchases to zero in April, the Ayatollah has gone all-in on a campaign of extortion diplomacy,” he said, calling out Iran for breaching caps imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, test-firing a ballistic missile and seizing tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.
Under the Iran nuclear deal, a UN arms embargo on the country and a travel ban on Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani are due to expire next year. The Quds Force is the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
Pompeo said the US State Department had put a clock on its website that was counting down to the removal of the measures.
“The international community will have plenty of time to see how long it has until Iran is unshackled to create new turmoil, and figure out what it must do to prevent this from happening,” he said.
Iran’s UN ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, accused the United States of causing insecurity and instability with its military presence and “unbridled flow of American weaponry into this region, which has turned it into a powder keg.”
“While we are not seeking confrontation, we cannot and will not remain indifferent to the violation of our sovereignty. Therefore, in order to secure our borders and interests, we will vigorously exercise our inherent right to self-defense,” he told the Security Council.

Council action unlikely
At a Security Council meeting in December, Pompeo urged the 15-member body to prevent Iran from working on ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, carrying out test launches and establish “inspection and interdiction measures, in ports and on the high seas, to thwart Iran’s continuing efforts to circumvent arms restrictions.”
The council has not, and is unlikely to take any action on Iran. European powers have been scrambling to salvage the nuclear deal, while diplomats say Russia and China — which are council veto powers along with the United States, France and Britain — are likely to shield Iran from any action.
The US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, signaled earlier on Tuesday that the United States would not try to trigger a return of all international sanctions on Iran through a dispute resolution process agreed under the nuclear deal and enshrined in a 2015 UN Security Council resolution.
Although the United States quit the nuclear deal, some diplomats have questioned whether Washington might still spark a so-called snapback of sanctions on Tehran at the Security Council because the UN resolution still names it as a party to the deal.
“We’re no longer in the deal and so the parties that are still in the deal will have to make their decisions with respect to using or not using the dispute resolution mechanism,” Hook told reporters in New York. “There’s no question that Iran is in breach of the Iran nuclear deal.”