Caption:Foreign Minister, Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the UAE and Fiji’s H.E Robin Nair.Photo:SUPPLIED

Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met his UAE counterpart, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi.

Both of them reviewed their bilateral relations and noted the rapid progress being made. His Highness told the Minister he was sorry that he had to cancel his bilateral visit to Fiji last February but he had rescheduled his visit to November. Minister Kubuabola welcomed the news.

The Fijian Foreign Minister acknowledged the personal invitation from Sheikh Abdullah for him to attend the Abu Dhabi Ascent – Climate Change Summit  (4-5 May), as a lead up to the Climate Summit in New York in September 2014 ..

Minister Kubuabola told His Highness that he was pleased to see the UAE establish a development partnership relationship with Fiji and he noted in particular the recent grant of USD$5m to develop solar energy for the islands of Kadavu, Lakeba and Rotuma.

“This is a very significant sector to develop, particularly in the outlying islands of the Fiji Group which depend entirely on the supply of fossil fuel to these remote islands for their electricity. The Fijian Government has prioritized developing the island communities for self-sufficiency in the energy sector, which will help them with 24 hour electricity for medical centres and schools and also help develop small industries.”

Minister Kubuabola also noted the completion of of a Memorandum of Understanding between the RFMF and the UAE Armed Forces and said that this cooperation would enhance the capacity of the RFMF and he looked forward to this relationship developing especially in view of the large number of Fijian soldiers deployed in the region as a contribution to international peace-keeping efforts in the Middle East.

Minister Abdullah acknowledged Fiji’s very significant contribution to peace-keeping in the region.

Minister Kubuabola also acknowledged the interest and support shown by the UAE to the development of the Pacific Islands Development Forum. His Highness informed the Minister that this interest will continue and the UAE will be again represented at the next Summit Meeting of the PIDF in June.

Both Ministers discussed the prospects of greater cooperation in the development of trade between the two countries and Minister Abudullah said that there could be much more done in the tourism sector. Minister Kubuabola said that he hoped that the signing of a Double Taxation Agreement by the two countries would give an added impetus for investors to look at investment opportunities offered by his country.

Minister Abdullah welcomed the political developments in Fiji and the holding of general elections in September. He also noted the warming of relations between Fiji and ANZ as a significant development.

His Highness Sheik Abdullah informed the Minister that their soon to be appointed Ambassador to Canberra will also serve as UAE’s first Ambasssador to Fiji. He also noted that the Arab League’s commitment in 2010 to establish a representation in Fiji to serve the PSIDS region should again be revisited.

He regretted that the Arab countries pre-occupation with crises in some of their member countries had delayed this. He said, “Fiji is the logical centre to host such an organisation for the region”.


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