MOSCOW, March 9. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will begin his Middle East tour by paying a working visit the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday. His journey also involves visits to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The schedule of the Russian top diplomat’s visit to Abu Dhabi includes meetings with Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Russia maintains close ties with Persian Gulf countries. This winter, Moscow was visited by foreign policy chiefs of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
New cooperation perspectives
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov’s meetings in the UAE are to become an important part of bilateral political dialogue, during which Russian President Vladimir Putin maintains "regular trust-based contacts" with leaders of Arab monarchies.
Among other things, the sides will discuss ways to further increase business cooperation in line with agreements previously reached at the top level. Despite obstacles created by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Russia-UAE trade increased by 78% in the past year, reaching all-time high of $3.27 billion. The Russian side also confirmed previously announced plans to hold later this year a regular plenary session of a bilateral intergovernmental commission on trade, economic and technical cooperation. The commission’s previous meeting took place in October 2019.
The sides will also discuss new projects in a wide range of economic sectors, such as power generation, industry, agriculture, infrastructure and peaceful use of space. Special emphasis will be placed on cultural and humanitarian ties as well.
Use of Russian vaccines
Enhancing cooperation in tackling the novel coronavirus pandemic is expected to be among the main issues raised at the talks. When the Russian and UAE top diplomats last met in December 2020, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the novel coronavirus was undergoing the third stage of trials in the UAE. Now it is among the three vaccines approved for use in the country. With about 65% of its residents already inoculated, the UAE ranks third worldwide in terms of vaccinated population.
Besides, UAE is taking part in international clinical trials of the Sputnik Light vaccine, with 3,000 volunteers engaged. Sputnik Light is a one-dose version of Sputnik V, developed by the Gamaleya Institute. The drug consists of only one component, and respectively, it requires only one inoculation instead of two.
Global and regional security
Diplomats from Moscow and Abu Dhabi will also carry out a detailed exchange of opinions about key aspects on the global and Middle Eastern agenda. "The emphasis will be placed on the need to resolve the existing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa through inclusive dialogue, taking into account legitimate interests and concerns of all parties involved," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "From this angle, it is planned to consider the situation in Syria, Libya, Yemen and the Arab-Israeli conflict."
The sides will pay special attention to the issue of sustainable stabilization in the Persian Gulf. Approximately 18 month ago, Moscow unveiled its updated Russian Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf region. It envisages a collective mechanism of response to challenges and threats with the participation of regional states, including Iran and all Arab countries.
"We consistently urge to refrain from confrontational rhetoric, to address at the negotiating table all issues that had accumulated and [call upon] all states of the sub-region to engage into building a system of collective security and joint response to existing challenges and threats," the ministry said.
Russia’s regional security initiatives received a positive feedback in the United Arab Emirates. Following his visit to Moscow, the UAE top diplomat said his country welcomed Moscow’s efforts in this domain.