VP Kamala Harris, high-powered U.S. delegation visits UAE to honor late leader Sheikh Khalifa

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May 16 (UPI) — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris led a high-powered delegation to the United Arab Emirates on Monday to honor the country’s late ruler, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and support its new president.

Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday at the age of 73 after serving as UAE leader for close to two decades.

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On Monday, Harris left the United States to fly to Abu Dhabi with several top-ranking administration officials — including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, CIA Director William Burns and climate czar John Kerry.

In Abu Dhabi, Harris was scheduled to meet with the UAE’s new president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan — Sheikh Khalifa’s half-brother.

“I will emphasize the importance our partnership and the desire to further strengthen our ties,” Harris said in a tweet.

“His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was a true friend of the United States,” Blinken’s office said in a statement. “We deeply valued his support in building the extraordinary partnership our countries enjoy today.”

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Sheikh Khalifa became UAE ruler in 2004 and had a stroke in 2014. Sheikh Mohammed had been the country’s crown prince before ascending to the presidency, but observers say that he’s been the de facto ruler since Sheikh Khalifa’s stroke eight years ago.

In Abu Dhabi, Harris and the delegation will participate in a condolence visit during the visit, which is expected to last for about three hours. Monday’s is the most high-profile to the UAE by members of U.S. President Joe Biden‘s administration.