Opinion and Editorial

Bush in the UAE

Filed on January 14, 2008

US PRESIDENT George W Bush's visit to the United Arab Emirates is a watershed event in every sense of the term. This is the first visit by a United States president to the country, despite the close historical and strategic relations the two countries have always enjoyed.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are two of the key stops on the US leader's whirlwind tour of the region that began with a historic visit to the occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel and will conclude with Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Unfortunately, the focus of this epoch-making visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai has been on the US preoccupation with Iran, rather than America's strong and healthy relations with the UAE and other Gulf allies.

There's no denying the fact that Iran's nuclear ambitions are a source of concern to the Gulf countries including the UAE just as they exercise the US and its Western allies. President Bush's address in Abu Dhabi yesterday articulated those concerns. And Iran needs to address these legitimate concerns. However, the best way to persuade Iran to address these concerns is by way of diplomacy and peaceful engagement.

Just as the Gulf countries have healthy relations with the West including the US, they also have historical, cultural and economic ties with Iran. The UAE happens to be the biggest trading partner of Iran. This is why the UAE and other Gulf countries wouldn't want any more confrontation and conflict between the US and Iran. The Middle East and Gulf region, already suffering from two conflicts, cannot afford any more tensions. Peace and only peace is the way forward.

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