UAE warns Canada ties may be hit by lack of air deal

AFP October 10, 2010 10:04 AM

DUBAI, Oct 10, 2010 (AFP) - Canada’s ties with the United Arab Emirates will be "affected" by the lack of an agreement to expand aviation links between the two countries, the UAE’s ambassador to Canada was quoted as saying Sunday.

"The UAE is disappointed that despite intensive negotiations over the last five years, the UAE and Canada have been unable to arrive at an agreement on expanding the number of flights between the two countries," Mohammed Abdullah al-Ghafli was quoted as saying by the official WAM news agency.
"The fact that this has not come about undoubtedly affects the bilateral relationship," the ambassador said.
The report said that the existing six commercial flights a week fell short of the economic needs and growth potential of both Canada and the Gulf state.
The Canadian embassy in Abu Dhabi could not be reached for comment on Sunday, while UAE foreign ministry officials were also not immediately available.
But according to Canadian media reports, the country may have to withdraw from a "secret" military base near the UAE transport hub of Dubai as a result of the disagreement.
"The Canadian government is now preparing to relocate forces from the United Arab Emirates to somewhere such as Cyprus rather than give in to what it considers unreasonable demands from the host country," The Globe and Mail reported on its website on Friday in reference to the commercial flights issue.
The Vancouver Sun said Saturday that "Canadian soldiers and aircrew have only 27 days to pack up and clear out of Camp Mirage, the not-so-secret airbase in the United Arab Emirates that Ottawa established seven years ago to support military operations in Afghanistan."
The daily’s website said the UAE suspended a memorandum of understanding on the base on Tuesday, after the Canadian government balked at a demand that "Dubai-based Emirates Airlines and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways... each be granted daily flights between Toronto" and the UAE.
About 27,000 Canadians live in the United Arab Emirates, which is one of Canada’s biggest economic partners in the Middle East with bilateral trade valued at about 1.5 billion dollars per year, WAM cited Ghafli as saying

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