Kamala Harris meets with new UAE president and expresses condolences following death of the country’s president

Harris told reporters after the meeting she made the trip on behalf of President Joe Biden and the American people, “to send our condolences to a friend and partner, the United Arab Emirates. United Arab Emirates,” and congratulated the new president of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Sheikh Khalifa, whose modernization policies helped turn his country into a regional power, died on Friday at the age of 73.

Harris said she reaffirmed the US commitment to “security and prosperity in this region” and she spoke of “how the American people have benefited from this relationship.”

The vice president was joined by a high-profile tour of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, CIA Director Bill Burns and the President’s special envoy for climate John Kerry.

The White House said the trip was also attended by the US Embassy Abu Dhabi Chargé d’Affaires Sean Murphy; Harris’s national security adviser, Phil Gordon; National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk; and NSC Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa Barbara Leaf.

The inclusion of several other top Biden administration officials in the delegation signals a US effort to defuse recent tensions between the two countries, which have increased following a drone attack on Abu Dhabi by US forces. Houthi rebels in January killed three people. The UAE pushed for the Biden administration to redesign the Houthis as a terrorist organization after Biden reversed the Trump-era designation.

Biden called the late UAE leader “a true partner and friend of the United States.” “The United States is determined to honor the memory of late President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan by continuing to strengthen the strategic partnership between our countries in the months and years to come,” he said in a statement.

Sheikh Mohammed, his brother, was unanimously elected president by the country’s Federal Supreme Council, according to the official UAE news agency. Sheikh Mohammed was once considered the UAE’s de facto leader, handling day-to-day affairs for the Gulf state, while Sheikh Khalifa’s role has been largely ceremonial since he suffered a stroke and underwent surgery in 2014.

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