Kamala Harris met with the new President of the UAE and expressed condolences in connection with the death of the President of the country

Harris told reporters after the meeting that she made the trip on behalf of President Joe Biden and the American people “to express our condolences to our friend and partner, the United Arab Emirates” and to congratulate the new UAE president, the Sheikh. Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Sheikh Khalifa, whose modernization policies helped transform his country into a regional power, died Friday at the age of 73.

Harris said she reaffirmed the US commitment to “security and prosperity in this region” and that she spoke about “how the American people have benefited from this relationship.”

The Vice President was joined on this high-profile trip by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, CIA Director Bill Burns, and Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry.

The White House said Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi Shaun Murphy will also be on the trip; Harris’ National Security Adviser Phil Gordon; National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk; and NSC Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa Barbara Leaf.

The inclusion of several other senior Biden administration officials in the delegation is indicative of the US’s desire to ease recent tensions between the two countries, which escalated after a drone attack on Abu Dhabi by Houthi rebels in January that left three dead. The UAE has pushed for the Biden administration to redesignate the Houthis as a terrorist organization after Biden rescinded the Trump era definition.

Biden called the late UAE leader “a true partner and friend of the United States.” In a statement, he said: “The United States is determined to honor the memory of the late President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan by continuing to strengthen the strategic partnership between our countries in the coming months and years.”

His brother Sheikh Mohammed was unanimously elected President of the country’s Federal Supreme Council, according to the UAE’s official news agency. Sheikh Mohammed has been widely regarded as the de facto leader of the UAE, handling the day to day affairs of the Gulf state, while Sheikh Khalifa’s role has been mostly ceremonial since he suffered a stroke and underwent surgery in 2014.

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