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New UAE president meets Macron as leaders stream in for funeral; Herzog set to depart for UAE

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) meets the UAE's newly elected president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L), at Al Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on May 15, 2022. (Christian Hartmann/Pool/AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron (C) meets the UAE's newly elected president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L), at Al Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on May 15, 2022. (Christian Hartmann/Pool/AFP)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The UAE’s new president, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, holds talks today with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron as world leaders stream in to the oil-rich Gulf state to pay tribute to his late predecessor.

Macron, on his first foreign trip since his second term started last week, expresses his condolences to the leader dubbed MBZ following the death of his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa on Friday after a long illness.

Macron, the first Western leader to pay his respects, will be followed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog and the king of Spain, among a long list of dignitaries.

The United Arab Emirates has begun wielding increased influence in the Middle East and further afield due to its wealth, oil resources and strategic location.

MBZ has been quietly running the country since 2014 when Sheikh Khalifa, his 73-year-old half-brother, was sidelined by a stroke. The cause of his death was not announced.

Today Qatar’s emir, Bahrain’s king and the Palestinian Authority, German and Indonesian presidents are among more than 20 senior officials expected.

Herzog, who is due to depart shortly, will be joined by Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel. The president is expected meet his new UAE counterpart during his stay.

Before leaving, Herzog says he will offer his condolences on Israel’s behalf to MBZ on the death of his half-brother and congratulate him on his appointment as president.

“In a global reality of wars, interests, and conflicts — friendship has truly great value, and it is measured also, and perhaps in particular, in moments of sorrow and pain,” he says, according to a statement from his office. “The partnership between our countries is an asset for us and for the whole region, and it has been built and is still being built by bold and groundbreaking leaders, of whom the late Sheikh Khalifa was one.”

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