UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed, PM Khan hold ‘wide-ranging talks’

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan (R) speaks with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan during a meeting at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. (AFP)
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Mian Jahangir Iqbal, Principal Information Officer, presenting photo album to Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan upon his departure at Noor Khan Air Base in Islamabad on Sunday. (Press Information Department)
Updated 07 January 2019
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UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed, PM Khan hold ‘wide-ranging talks’

  • Prime focus was on trade and economy with an agreement to expedite the processes involved
  • Analysts say both the countries enjoy a decades-old religious and cultural bond

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan held wide-ranging talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in Islamabad on Sunday, with the main focus on trade and economy.

The one-on-one meeting was part of Sheikh Mohammed’s one-day state visit to Pakistan after a 12-year gap.

“They resolved to take all necessary measures to deal with matters related to trade enhancement, and decided to form a task force to achieve this objective,” a statement released by the PM Office read.

Sheikh Mohammed was received by PM Khan at the Nur Khan airbase and accorded a ceremonial reception at the PM House, which was followed by a meeting and delegation-level talks. 

The statement said that the two “held wide-ranging talks focusing on all areas of bilateral relations”, adding that both the leaders expressed their determination to further strengthen the “historic and mutually beneficial relationship” between the two countries.

The two leaders underscored the importance of effectively pursuing the various initiatives taken for a strengthened and strategic bilateral relationship including working on a “long-term investment framework agreement”.

PM Khan also thanked Sheikh Mohammed for the “generous balance of payment support of $3 billion” adding that “this financial support shows the UAE’s continued commitment and friendship that has remained steadfast over the years”.

The premier welcomed the UAE’s interest in investing in Pakistan’s oil and gas, logistics, and construction sectors. The ongoing defense and security cooperation between both the countries also came under discussion which they agreed to enhance further.

The prime minister congratulated the leadership of the UAE for declaring 2019 as the year of tolerance. “This was the best way to pay a tribute to the vision and legacy of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” the statement said.

“The crown prince recognized the efforts and unparalleled sacrifices made by Pakistan to eliminate terrorism and extremism,” it said, adding that the two leaders instructed the relevant authorities to expedite the finalization of the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement to clampdown on white-collar crimes such as money-laundering.

The crown prince was also briefed about the efforts that Pakistan was making to support and facilitate the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process. He also appreciated the UAE’s role in hosting Afghan peace talks in Abu Dhabi.

“The two leaders agreed to work closely for the lasting peace and stability of Afghanistan” and expressed their resolve “to strive for progress, prosperity, and stability of both the UAE and Pakistan”.

“The crown prince’s visit to Pakistan shows that both the countries have turned a new page to further strengthen the decades-old bilateral relationship,” former ambassador Javed Hafeez told Arab News.

He said that PM Khan’s visits to the UAE have finally born “positive results” as the UAE has already extended $3 billion financial package to help Islamabad overcome its balance of payments crisis.

Professor Tahir Malik, a foreign affairs analyst, said that Pakistan’s relations with the UAE had soured during the previous PML-N government’s rule and “it is heartening to see the leadership of both the countries forging the bilateral relationship again”.

“The UAE has always extended financial and moral support to Pakistan during its testing times, and hopefully it will announce major investments in oil and other sectors soon,” he told Arab News.

“It is important to understand that relations of UAE and Pakistan are not limited to economic cooperation only …. we have a very strong religious and cultural bond as well which keeps growing with the passage of time,” he added.


At least 10 dead as fire rages on Black Sea ships

Updated 42 min 49 sec ago
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At least 10 dead as fire rages on Black Sea ships

  • Twelve people were rescued from the burning vessels but there was little hope of finding any more survivors
  • The strait connects both Russian and Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea to the Black Sea

MOSCOW: Ten crew died and another 10 were missing presumed dead in a fire that broke out on two ships while they were transferring fuel in the Black Sea, Russia’s Transport Ministry said on Tuesday.
The vessels which caught fire on Monday have the same names as two Tanzania-flagged ships, the Maestro and Venice, which last year were included on a US sanctions advisory as delivering fuel to Syria.
Twelve people were rescued from the burning vessels but there was little hope of finding any more survivors, a spokesman for the Transport Ministry’s maritime unit said. The focus had switched from a rescue operation to a search for bodies, he added.
The spokesman said the vessels, which had a combined crew of 32, were still on fire and rough no attempts were being made to put out the blaze because of rough sea conditions.
Russian maritime officials said on Monday that the vessels were carrying out a ship-to-ship transfer of fuel in the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from Russia.
On Nov. 20 last year, the US Treasury Department added nine Russian and Iranian individuals and companies on its sanctions list for participating in the shipment of petroleum to Syria.
It also issued an advisory note warning of the potential sanctions risk for any entities involved in such shipments which listed 35 ships, including the Maestro and Venice, as having delivered oil to Syria between 2016 and 2018.
Reuters reported in December that both the Maestro and Venice continued operations after the Treasury announcement, and regularly entered Crimea’s Temryuk port, according to Refinitiv data.
In the port, liquefied petroleum gas of Russian and Kazakh origin is transferred onto tankers for export, via the Kerch Strait.
The strait, between Russian-annexed Crimea and southern Russia, connects both Russian and Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea to the Black Sea.
In November, Russia detained three Ukrainian navy vessels and their crews in the vicinity of the strait, fueling tensions between the two countries. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.