On the menu: Regional Security issues, including Syria; White House releases Joint Statement from United States and United Arab Emirates...
President Obama met for lunch on Wednesday with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates. The working luncheon in the Oval Office Private Dining Room began at 12:40 PM, and included National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, according to the photo, above, released by the White House. Salad was on the menu, as can be seen in the photo, though a full menu was not released since the lunch was closed to press.
The President and Crown Prince "reviewed the full range of regional security issues including Iran, Syria, terrorism, and energy security," the White House said. They have met twice before at the White House, with visits from His Highness in September of 2009 and April of 2011. Donilon traveled to the United Arab Emirates in 2011 for talks with His Highness.
Following the luncheon, the White House released this Joint Statement by the United States and the United Arab Emirates:
"The United States and United Arab Emirates remain deeply committed to close consultation and cooperation to promote peace and stability in the Gulf region and broader Middle East. In their meeting at the White House today, President Obama and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nuhayan reviewed the full range of regional security issues including Iran, Syria, terrorism, and energy security.
The President and Crown Prince discussed the ongoing negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program and the three Gulf islands whose sovereignty is disputed between the UAE and Iran. They called upon Iran to meet its international obligations under the Nuclear Nonprolilferation Treaty and relevant United Nations Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors resolutions. They also called for a peaceful resolution of the islands' status, regarding which the United States strongly supports the UAE's initiative to resolve the issue through direct negotiations, the International Court of Justice, or another appropriate international forum.
Both the President and Crown Prince expressed the urgent need to implement the Annan plan to prevent further bloodshed in Syria and their support for a transition plan that would meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. Noting the profound changes taking place in other countries in the Middle East, they called on governments and citizens alike to avoid violence, advance tolerance, and protect human rights-particularly the rights of women. They highlighted the importance of reforms that support accountable governance, increase civic participation, and promote economic opportunities, especially for young people.
The President and Crown Prince pledged to sustain the two countries' joint counter-terrorism and security initiatives in the region. They discussed programs to counter violent extremism and the ideological roots of terrorism, and welcomed the upcoming launch in October in Abu Dhabi of the new Center for Countering Violent Extremism, a project supported by both countries and the international community.
The President and Crown Prince reaffirmed their commitment to strong bilateral defense cooperation to enhance regional security and deter any threat of aggression against the UAE. They identified a number of mechanisms to continue to deepen this cooperation, including more joint exercises and training, improved combined planning, and future defense equipment sales. They noted their appreciation that the militaries of the two governments had worked together in multiple coalition operations, including in Desert Storm, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Libya. They discussed transition plans for Afghanistan, where UAE Special Forces units have been deployed for 10 years as part of broader coalition military and humanitarian stabilization efforts. They pledged to enhance multilateral cooperation on regional security issues through the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council Strategic Cooperation Forum.
On energy security, the Crown Prince outlined the UAE's ongoing initiatives to reduce price volatility and ensure reliable supplies to world markets at prices that support global economic growth. The President and Crown Prince discussed the importance of protecting critical shipping lanes against threats of aggression, terrorism, and piracy. The President congratulated the Crown Prince on the announcement of the opening of a new 1.5 million bpd oil pipeline that crosses the UAE, thus allowing energy supplies to bypass the Strait of Hormuz, and also expressed his appreciation for the UAE's efforts in the field of renewable energy.
The President and Crown Prince welcomed their countries' strong bilateral economic, cultural, and social ties, noting that the UAE is one of the largest trading partners of the United States in the Middle East. The President thanked the UAE for hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Summit this December in Dubai, and reaffirmed U.S. support for encouraging broad-based economic growth and opportunity in the region. The President also noted with appreciation the significant investment by the UAE in the United States, including in a semiconductor manufacturing facility in upstate New York scheduled to open later this year."
*Photo by Pete Souza/White House