UAE won’t be used for attack on Iran: Khalifa


Shaikh Khalifa was speaking in an exclusive interview with London-based Arabic daily, Al Hayat. He urged the summit, which opened today in the Saudi capital, to maintain a solid stance on the issue of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees as contained in the Arab Peace Initiative.



The president expressed deep concern over the many attempts to sow seeds of discord and sectarian sentiment among Muslims. He said such attempts deeply concerned the UAE as well as other Gulf, Arab and Islamic states. He said the UAE fully supports all political and religious efforts to contain the sectarian violence in Iraq. The president said the UAE supports the Saudi-Iran dialogue and the convening of a regional conference on reconciliation in Iraq. The UAE also backs a resolution on the Lebanese crisis, he said.



Shaikh Khalifa reiterated that the UAE totally rejects the use of its land, air and territorial waters to attack any country. “We have reiterated to our Iranian brothers in a letter delivered recently by the foreign minister that we are not a party to the conflict between Iran and the United States and that we shall never allow the use of our soil for any military, security or intelligence activities against them,” he said.



The President pointed out that the country’s strategy to regain control of its three islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa “is not subject to any regional or international political agenda. We shall never strengthen our position with foreign support to resolve the issue of the occupied islands.”



He said the Arab Quartet Committee (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Jordan) was just a contact group tasked by the Arab League to sit with parties that wield influence on the Palestinian issue. The committee aims at giving a push to international efforts to revive the peace process, settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ensure the establishment of a Palestinian State.



Replying to a question on the security aspect of the Arab Quartet Committee, Sheikh Khalifa said “security coordination among the countries is not new, particularly in view of the current situation when the security threat is worldwide, widespread and a cross-border phenomenon…”



Khalifa drew attention to the existing coordination between the international quartet and its Arab counterpart and said: “We hope that the existing coordination between the two sides would explain the Arab stance, particularly on the issue of rejection of normalisation of ties with Israel until a comprehensive peace is achieved and the total Israeli pull-out from all occupied Palestinian territories, the Golan Heights and Lebanon.”



He expressed the hope that the ongoing contact between the international and Arab committees would push the parties to respect the choice of the Palestinians by “recognising the government of national unity and enabling it to discharge its duties.” He said the UAE completely backs the Arab views on the national unity government in Palestine.



He drew attention to other special Arab committees dealing with issues like Iraq, Lebanon and Somalia. “If necessary there would be a special committee for the Iranian issue,” he said. “The role of the Arab League has become more significant in recent times due to the increasing internal and external dangers facing the Arab nations, its countries and peoples,” he explained.



On the UAE’s stance on Iran’s nuclear programme, Shaikh Khalifa said the Middle East region must be free from all weapons of mass destruction. “We have informed the Iranian leadership about this stance and we got from them assurances that the programme is for peaceful purposes. But the Iranian assurances need to be supported with guarantees that the nuclear programme is in conformity with the standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.



“It must meet technical standards that guarantee the safety of the installations,” he added and urged Iran to address the concerns of the international community.



He also called on the United States and the West not to abandon diplomatic solution and resort to military option.



On the resolution passed during the last Gulf Summit on conducting studies for a peaceful nuclear programme, Sheikh Khalifa said the project is not against any country nor is it a reaction to any other programme in the region.



Khalifa re-affirmed the UAE’s support for the Lebanese government.



“We support of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to resolve this crisis,” he said.



On the situation in Iraq, Shaikh Khalifa expressed deep concern on the rising violence in the country. He said: “We urge various Iraqi political forces to put first their country’s supreme national interest before their individual parochial interests.”



He commended the efforts being made by the Iraqi government to implement the security plan and called for a comprehensive national dialogue, the disarming of all militias, the building of a strong non-sectarian army and security forces that would work to protect the unity and integrity of Iraq.



“No one demands the quick withdrawal of the American forces from Iraq,” he said. A phased withdrawal should go hand-in-hand with national political reconciliation and the building of Iraqi military and security forces. He reiterated the UAE would provide all support to ensure the success of this programme.


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