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UAE official says European ties with Gulf 'should not be transactional'

December 11, 2022 at 2:30 pm

UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash in Jeddah on 17 July 2019. [AMER HILABI/AFP/Getty Images]

A senior United Arab Emirates official said on Saturday it was encouraging to see greater European outreach to Gulf Arab states in the face of the Ukraine conflict and energy crunch, but that engagement should not be “transactional”, reports Reuters.

A number of European officials have visited Gulf countries to secure energy supplies outside of former top provider Russia after the West imposed sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

“What we’re hearing, especially from the Germans and others, about reengaging with the Gulf, I am encouraged but I would warn that it should not be transactional,” Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic advisor to the president of the UAE, told the World Policy Conference in Abu Dhabi.

“I think that language is partly driven by self-interest — trying to find new gas providers, new oil providers,” he said. “We need to see actions… it has to be long term and strategic.”

Gargash reiterated a call for “explicit” security assurances from traditional Western allies, especially in dealing with the threat from Iranian drones that Gulf states have long warned about.

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It was not until these weapons “made it into the Ukraine theatre” that they were “catapulted” into the spotlight, and “suddenly the world rediscovered this issue”, Gargash said.

Western states have accused Russia of using Iranian drones to attack targets in Ukraine, which Tehran and Moscow have denied.

Gulf states have long pressed global powers to address their fears about Iran’s missile and drone programmes in now-stalled efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, which former U.S. President Donald Trump exited in 2018.

“This is an opportunity for all of us to come and revisit the whole concept,” Gargash said, referring to the Iran nuclear pact.

Gulf states have resisted Western pressure to break with Russia, a fellow member of the OPEC+ oil producer alliance which in October agreed cuts to output targets.

Gargash said some countries, which he did not name, were loading ties with “moralistic baggage and other interests”, adding politics has to be “more realistic if you want results”.