ABU DHABI: The UAE and the United States agreed on Monday to cooperate to prevent “terrorist” groups from using the Gulf state’s finance sector, according to a statement from the U.S. Treasury.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan agreed to cooperate more closely “to disrupt terrorist support networks” in talks in Abu Dhabi.
They “stressed the importance of ensuring the United Arab Emirates’ financial system is closed off to the broad range of terrorist and criminal groups,” the statement said.
The meeting comes as nine men stand trial in Abu Dhabi for allegedly forming “Al-Qaeda cell” accused of supporting Al-Nusra Front, the jihadist network’s Syrian affiliate.
Among other charges, the men are accused of having “financed Al-Nusra Front,” state news agency WAM said.
The officials also discussed improving economic ties between the countries, the Treasury statement said, as well as the situation in Iraq, where a militant offensive led by jihadists has seen chunks of the country fall out of government control.
Sheikh Mohammed and Lew “underscored the importance of Iraqi leaders unifying the country and close cooperation throughout the region to confront terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” the statement said.
The UAE has so far not issued an official statement on the situation in Iraq, but Saudi Arabia and Qatar have blamed the unrest on what they called the “sectarian” policies of the Shiite-led government in Baghdad against the Sunni Arab minority.
Lew also thanked the UAE for its “cooperation on Iran”, saying the United States and other world powers who began a new round of nuclear talks with the Islamic Republic in Vienna on Monday “are focused on reaching a comprehensive solution that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
Iran’s Gulf Arab neighbors have been wary of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions but have officially welcomed talks aimed at striking a long-term compromise.