Ahmadinejad makes landmark visit to UAE
President Mahmud Ahmadinejad made a groundbreaking visit to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, the first ever visit by an Iranian head of state.
“We are neighbors and brothers, we share a common past and a common future,” Ahmadinejad said in a meeting with UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Iranian president stated that expanding ties between Iran and the UAE is Iran’s “set policy.” “We never have a feeling of rivalry with our brothers in the United Arab Emirates and if we make any progress, we will share with our brothers in the region.” “Together we can make the Persian Gulf a peace gulf,” Ahmadinejad said, adding, “We all want the foreign forces to leave the region and to allow the regional countries themselves to establish peace and security in the region.”
All regional nations are bound together as brothers, and regardless of whether they are Shia or Sunni, they are all Muslims, he noted.
The occupiers of Iraq are trying to foment Shia-Sunni discord to add fuel to the fire and prolong their occupation, he observed.
Sheikh Khalifa and high-ranking UAE officials were all on hand to greet Ahmadinejad, underscoring the importance attached to his visit, AFP reported. Joint investment
Ahmadinejad said Iran and the UAE can make joint investments in petrochemical, water, and electricity projects as well as for the construction of refineries and hotels.
He went on to say that Tehran is prepared to cooperate in transferring Turkmenistan’s gas to the UAE.
Sheikh Khalifa expressed his country’s strong desire to develop ties with Tehran and called for the establishment of a joint commission to expand ties between the two neighbors.
He noted that he strongly defended the UAE’s close ties with Iran during his meeting on Thursday with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who is on a regional tour.
“We boldly assert our position,” the UAE president stated. “In a meeting with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, I said we have important and historical relations with Iran and share common interests with this neighboring country, and he definitely did not like my words.”
He also expressed hope that the foreign military forces would soon leave the region.
“The withdrawal of foreign fleets and armies from the region is one of our desires.
“Some countries are prolonging their presence in the region on the pretext of the Iraq crisis, but I hope that the Iraqis themselves will solve their own problems,” Sheikh Khalifa said.
“Iran and the United Arab Emirates should play their roles to create stability in Iraq,” he observed.
Sheikh Khalifa said last March that the UAE would never allow its territory to be used for "hostile activities" against Iran.
Ahmadinejad also visited Dubai later on Sunday.
The UAE is Iran"s biggest trading partner, and Iranian non-oil imports from the UAE amounted to 7.67 billion dollars in the Iranian year to May 2006, some 20 percent of its total.
At least 400,000 of the UAE"s 4.1 million residents are Iranian, according to the Iranian Consulate in Dubai.
In a sign of the importance Tehran attaches to its relations with the UAE, last year it appointed one of its highest profile diplomats, former Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi, as its ambassador to Abu Dhabi