ABU DHABI, 18th June 2020 (WAM) – H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, headed on Thursday the UAE’s delegation to the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ videoconference, called by the People’s Republic of China, to discuss ways of combating COVID-19 and strengthening cooperation among the initiative’s partner countries.
Along with H.H. Sheikh Abdullah, the UAE delegation included Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State.
In his speech, Sheikh Abdullah thanked Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi for his efforts in arranging this critical meeting and expressed his appreciation to the support and leadership provided to the global community during the pandemic by the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.
“We highly value the role played by China in dealing with the repercussions of COVID-19 and in hosting this international conference. We also stress the great importance of the Belt and Road initiative and acknowledge the role it has been playing in enhancing international cooperation and stimulating economic growth in vital sectors,” he added.
Sheikh Abdullah pointed out that from a very early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UAE chose to undertake aggressive preventative actions to address this health threat.
“The UAE has one of the highest per-capita testing rates for COVID-19 in the world, has expanded and reallocated medical resources in order to respond quickly, and has sought to be as transparent as possible in keeping the public well informed of the risks at hand.”
Over recent weeks, he continued, we have observed a slowdown in the spread of the virus, and we remain confident that we have moved beyond the worst stages of this crisis, though given the extraordinary nature of the threat from COVID-19, ongoing vigilance is necessary.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah referred to the UAE’s achievements in fighting this virus, saying that they could not have taken place “without the support of many of the countries and organisations participating in this videoconference today.”
“I would especially like to thank the People’s Republic of China for the extensive support, cooperation, and guidance it has provided throughout this crisis, for which, the people of the UAE extend their deepest gratitude. This cooperation and solidarity underlines a key element in the fight against COVID-19 – we are all in this together. Recognition of this ‘togetherness’ pervades all elements of the UAE’s broader approach to COVID-19,” he stated.
To date, Sheikh Abdullah went on, the UAE has provided over 935 metric tons of medical supplies to 66 countries to bolster efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. The aid will assist close to 900,000 medical professionals in the process.
“In these endeavors, the UAE remains at the forefront in providing logistical support for World Health Organization operations, and continues to assist in the transportation of medical supplies to a number of at-risk countries.”
H.H. noted that the UAE is also doing all it can to provide the World Health Organisation with much needed COVID-19 testing kits in light of the scarcity of testing supplies in several countries.
“Fundamentally, the UAE Government believes all countries must engage closely in the fight against COVID-19. We cannot afford to retreat within our borders. In this respect, the Belt and Road Initiative offers a firm foundation to enhance the prospects of multilateralism during this challenging period.”
Sheikh Abdullah said that as a country whose prosperity relies upon free movement and open trade, the UAE stands ready to do all it can to assist in developing a global economic and political architecture that promotes inclusiveness, resilience, and cooperation.
“The UAE believes it is essential that together we leverage the connectivity that the Belt and Road seeks to promote to develop new mechanisms for enhanced trade, investment, political and people-to-people cooperation.
Whether this be through greater liberalization of air transportation, strengthening of supply chains, joint investments in the medical, manufacturing, and infrastructure sectors, or political dialogue; COVID-19 should not only be viewed as a challenge, but also as an opportunity for enhanced cooperation.”
He concluded by saying that in the UAE’s view, COVID-19 has strengthened rather than undermined the benefits of multilateralism, and highlighted the vital need for all countries to avoid pursuing particularistic and narrow interests.
“Although we remain in a turbulent period, I am confident that through greater cooperation in initiatives such as the Belt and Road we will together emerge from this crisis in a stronger position.”
The videoconference was presided over by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
It was attended by the Foreign Ministers of Belarus, Cambodia, Chile, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Serbia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Ethiopia, as well as high-level officials from Hungary, Indonesia, Myanmar, Greece, Russia, in addition to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO) and Achim Steiner, United Nations Development Program, UNDP, Administrator.