UAE urges more US involvement in Mideast under Trump

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash (L) arrives for a meeting with foreign ministers of the GCC in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on Oct 13, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

ABU DHABI (AFP) - The United Arab Emirates urged US president-elect Donald Trump on Sunday (Nov 13) to increase his country's involvement in the Middle East and adopt an "overarching strategy" towards developments in the turmoil-hit region.

"Washington's weight and influence remains more important than ever," said Anwar Gargash, minister of state for foreign affairs in the UAE, a longtime Washington ally.

"Following eight years of weakened American engagement in the region, which many feel has created a disconcerting vacuum, it looks like we will have to wait a little longer until the contours of president-elect Trump's approach" becomes clearer, Gargash told politicians at an event organised by the Emirates Policy Centre in Abu Dhabi.

"It is essential that there is an overarching strategy rather than isolated positions towards regional issues," he said in remarks published in English on the official WAM news agency.

"In short, America's engagement is positive and its withdrawal and disengagement is counterproductive," he added.

President Barack Obama's administration's policy in withdrawing from the region has been "a recipe for unremitting chaos and violence", he said, pointing to crises in Iraq, Syria and Libya which have spiralled out of control and fuelled extremism.

Breaking "this cycle of discord and instability requires difficult decisions, collective action and a continuous search for constructive solutions", Gargash said.

Under Obama, relations between Washington and Gulf Arab states turned frosty with US overtures towards their regional rival Iran.

Washington and other major powers reached an agreement, which took effect in January, to lift international sanctions on Iran in exchange for guarantees that it would not pursue a nuclear weapons capability.

Obama's reluctance to become involved in Syria's deadly war and other regional conflicts that have turned increasingly bloody and seen extremists such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group grow has also angered Washington's historic allies in the Gulf.

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