US President Joe Biden deployed a high-level delegation to the UAE this week in a bid to mend ties with Washington’s Gulf allies.
Vice President Kamala Harris travelled to Abu Dhabi on 16 May, leading a delegation made up of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, CIA director William Burns, and climate envoy John Kerry.
The top-tier group of US officials made the trip to pay their respects to new leader Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) on the death of his half-brother, according to the White House.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) also travelled to the UAE on 16 May to offer his condolences.
Several other world leaders have also travelled to the UAE since 13 May, including Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, French President Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
During a business dinner between MbZ and Blinken, the Emirati leader said his country “looked forward to strengthening strategic relations” with the US, the Emirati state news agency WAM reported.
Meanwhile, US officials said that Harris planned to emphasize the intent to deepen ties across areas ranging from security and climate to space, energy, and commerce.
This delegation, described by experts as a “major charm offensive,” is Biden’s latest attempt to improve frayed relations with the Gulf country in the wake of a global food and fuel crisis caused by the conflict in Ukraine.
The crisis has been made worse by severe economic sanctions imposed on Russia by western powers.
Despite being a key US strategic partner in the Persian Gulf region, earlier this year the UAE abstained from voting in a critical draft UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution condemning Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.
The move came as a shock to observers, even though the Gulf state did subsequently back a resolution at the UN General Assembly on 2 March.
“Our voting will always reflect our foreign policy: diplomacy, de-escalation, focusing on dialogue, focusing on the cessation of hostilities. That’s our foreign policy principle as well,” said Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, the UAE ambassador to the United Nations.