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Putin Seeks to Enhance Ties With UAE   10/15 06:11

   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin visited 
the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, as part of a Mideast tour aimed at 
strengthening ties between Moscow and this longtime U.S. ally amid tensions in 
the wider Persian Gulf.

   Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, met Putin 
at the airport and traveled with him to the Qasr Al Watan palace. As they 
arrived, troops on horseback flanked their limousine as military jets flew 
overhead and left a trail of smoke in the color of the Russian flag.

   The martial demonstrations, mirroring one given to Pope Francis in February, 
showed the importance the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian 
Peninsula, put on Putin's first visit since 2007.

   Part of that is simply business. Russians increasingly have turned to the 
UAE's skyscraper-studded city of Dubai to both do business and vacation along 
its beaches. Other emirates as well see Russian travelers, with some hotels 
having their signs in Cyrillic.

   Russia and other nations also have joined OPEC in a grouping called OPEC+, 
cutting their production to help boost prices. Crude oil sold for over $100 a 
barrel in the summer of 2014 before bottoming out below $30 a barrel in January 
2016. On Monday, it traded just under $60 a barrel for benchmark Brent crude.

   The region's security situation is the other part. Russia has worked with 
Iran to support embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country's long 
war. While opposing Assad at the beginning of the conflict, the UAE now seems 
to accept Assad will remain in power there. Abu Dhabi has reopened its embassy 
in Damascus and is encouraging renewed business ties.

   Meanwhile, the Emirates has tried to ease tensions with Iran after President 
Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from Tehran's nuclear deal with 
world powers over a year ago. Oil tankers off the UAE's coast came under attack 
by what the U.S. Navy described as Iranian magnetic mines, something denied by 
Tehran. Iran also seized a UAE-based oil tanker in recent months as well.

   In the time since, Abu Dhabi quietly has reached out to Iran and pulled 
troops from a Saudi-led war in Yemen targeting Shiite rebels there aligned with 
Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday acknowledged a high-level 
official from the UAE had traveled to Iran for talks recently and said the 
relations between the two countries had improved recently.

   Yet all this comes as the U.S. remains the major security partner for the 
UAE. Some 5,000 American troops are stationed in the UAE and Dubai's Jebel Ali 
port remains the Navy's top overseas port of call.

   In remarks at Qasr Al Watan, Sheikh Mohammed praised Russia's relationship 
with the Emirates.

   "I hope this visit will have a deep effect to enhance the strategic 
relationship between our countries," the crown prince said.


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