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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone, and let me just say again, welcome to my friend, Sheikh Abdullah.  It’s wonderful to have him here.  We spent the morning with our Israeli colleague and had a very good and productive meeting among the three of us, both in celebration of the anniversary of the Abraham Accords, but also focused in on the work that we’re actually doing together and the work that the UAE and Israel are doing as well.

But we now have a lot to talk about in our bilateral agenda.  The work that we are doing as strategic partners, a partnership we place great value in.  I want to just, at the very outset – and we’ll talk about this – express deep thanks to the UAE for its remarkable help and generosity in helping with the evacuation of Afghan partners.  We deeply, deeply appreciate this.

At the same time, we have a wonderful start to Expo and I’ve already gotten great reports about that start.  I’m looking forward, I hope, to an opportunity to visit and see the great work.  But we have a lot to talk about in terms of regional – shared regional challenges, whether it is Iran, whether it’s Syria, whether it’s Lebanon.  Lots to discuss there.  And we’re also very much looking forward to the role that the UAE is about to take on on the United Nations Security Council.  And so we’ll be talking about that agenda as well.

But, my friend, welcome.  Great to have you here.

FOREIGN MINISTER ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED:  Thank you, Secretary Blinken.  We are always honored to be among friends.  The U.S. is our closest partner.  We could not have asked for a better partner and a stronger ally on every single topic.

You mentioned Expo, and that’s just a way where the United States and the rest of the world are appreciating the efforts in the UAE for the last 50 years and showing that for the very first time in 171 years, an expo is not only taking place in the Gulf or in the Middle East, but in a Muslim country.  So I really hope that the UAE can shape the future for many, many friends around our region.  And if it wasn’t for our 50 years of cooperation, we would be in a far different place.  But it’s only (inaudible) friends we have in the United States, we should be grateful to you.  And hopefully we can, in the next 50 years, double down and do far more.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I look forward to doing that.  Thanks, and welcome again.

Thanks, everyone.

U.S. Department of State

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