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Sun 28 Sep 2008 06:37 AM

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UAE calls for global financial system overhaul

UAE foreign minister tells UN greater regulation and transparency needed.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has called for an overhaul of global financial systems in the wake of the Wall Street crisis that has shaken markets across the world.

Speaking before the UN General Assembly in New York on Saturday, Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE is very concerned about the repercussions of the crisis, UAE daily The National reported.

“While we express our concern at the repercussions of the financial crisis in the international markets, we affirm that this issue requires an urgent international joint mechanism that contributes to the establishment of well enforced and transparent rules for regulating the international financial markets,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Sheikh Abdullah also repeated the UAE's call for progress to be made in multilateral negotiations on strategic disarmament, particularly on nuclear weapons, state news agency WAM reported.

At the same time Sheikh Abdullah reiterated UAE's conviction that countries have the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

"Pursuant to our firm conviction of the undeniable right of countries to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes... we urge the developed nations to support the legitimate needs of developing countries for access to such energy..." he was quoted as saying by WAM.

In relation to the UAE's nuclear energy initiative, Sheikh Abdullah said the Gulf state is "committed to full transparency" and will "abide by all relevant measures related to nuclear non-proliferation".

Sheikh Abdullah reiterated the UAE's support of the fight against terrorism and called for greater interfaith dialogue.

"...we re-emphasise our support for all those initiatives that are being undertaken to promote a dialogue between civilisations and to promote a spirit of tolerance among all faiths," he said.

Regionally, Sheikh Abdullah again raised the issue of Iran's occupation of the three UAE islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb and called on the Islamic Republic to hand them back.

"In this forum, I would like to state that we adhere to our position of demanding a full restoration of the UAE's sovereignty over the three occupied islands, their territorial waters, their air space, their continental shelf and their exclusive economic zone," he stressed.

Speaking on Iraq, Sheikh Abdullah urged all political groups in the country to abandon sectarian strife and become actively involved in the current political process.

"We firmly believe that security and stability in our region can never be re-established until it once again becomes possible for Iraq to re-assume its vital role in affairs at a regional and an international level," he said.

Sheikh Abdullah expressed his dismay over Israel's "growing lack of interest in negotiations", and called on the UN Security Council to exert further pressure on Tel Aviv.

"The United Arab Emirates has strongly supported the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, as laid down within the framework of the Annapolis Understanding. In that context, we would wish to draw particular attention to our concerns about Israel's growing lack of interest in negotiations," he said.

"We call upon the international community and, in particular, the United Nations Security Council and the Middle East Quartet of powers, to exert further pressure on Tel Aviv."

At home, Sheikh Abdullah highlighted progress the UAE has made in the fields of human rights, education and the environment.

"We are also developing our national legislation and laws pertinent to the preservation of human rights and we are exerting major efforts to improve the welfare of those with special needs,' he said.

"In terms of the environment, the United Arab Emirates launched earlier this year, in association with the Worldwide Fund for Nature, the Masdar City, a sustainable development project which will be the first carbon-free city in the world."

Sheikh Abdullah also highlighted progress the UAE has made in tackling human trafficking and reiterated the Gulf state's commitment to stamping out the trade.