Secretary Jacob J. Lew made his first visit to the Middle East as Treasury Secretary this week to continue Treasury’s engagement with international partners and allies in the region. The Secretary met with senior government officials and business leaders in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Israel for discussions on the state of the global economy, as well as regional economic issues. Secretary Lew’s meetings also focused on other areas of common interest, including continued cooperation on efforts to disrupt the financial and support networks of terrorist organizations and on international sanctions.
At the beginning of the week, Secretary Lew participated in a television interview with Al-Arabiya, during which he spoke about the important issues on the agenda for his trip. He discussed counter-terrorist financing, the importance of creating a stable economic environment and energy market to encourage investments, efforts to encourage U.S. and global growth and job creation, and coordination with our international partners to address the situation in Ukraine. Watch the interview below courtesy of Al-Arabiya.
On Monday, June 16, Secretary Lew visited Abu Dhabi and met with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Secretary Lew thanked the Crown Prince and Minister for the UAE’s cooperation on the Iran sanctions program and reiterated the commitment of the United States’ and P5+1 to reaching a comprehensive solution on Iran’s nuclear program. They also discussed ways to promote and bolster economic relations between the UAE and the United States, including opportunities to expand bilateral economic and financial cooperation between the two countries.
Secretary Lew commended the UAE for its support to Arab countries in transition and emphasized the United States’ focus on promoting strong and inclusive economic growth throughout the Middle East. He also shared concerns regarding developments in Iraq, underscoring the importance of close cooperation across the region to confront terrorist groups.
On Tuesday, the Secretary visited Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and met with Minister of Finance Ibrahim Al-Assaf and Central Bank Governor Fahad Al-Mubarak. In a statement following their meeting, Secretary Lew said he “expressed the United States’ confidence in our partnership, noted my appreciation for our close collaboration in addressing illicit finance threats, and reiterated the importance of economic cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Specifically, Secretary Lew noted “Saudi Arabia has been among our most important partners in combating terrorist financing, and we discussed how we can further enhance our cooperation – not just against groups operating in Iraq and Syria but also groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, such as the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e Tayyiba, and transnational groups such as Hizballah.”
Yesterday, Secretary Lew finished his trip to the Middle East by visiting Jerusalem, Israel, where Secretary Lew participated in and delivered remarks at the U.S.—Israel Joint Economic Development Group’s (JEDG) annual meeting with Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid. Each year the JEDG provides a forum for bilateral discussions between the U.S. and Israel on a diverse range of issues, including lowering the regulatory barriers to entry for trade and investment, cooperation on energy policy, and facilitating innovation through increased collaboration on science and technology.
In his remarks Secretary Lew said “I commend Minister Lapid on the strengths of the Israeli economy and the ambitious set of fiscal reforms that the Israeli government has undertaken to reduce its fiscal deficit and boost growth. I have followed the Israeli economy since the 1980s and have watched how the implementation of a robust monetary and fiscal framework generated tremendous results for the Israeli economy. These reforms, coupled with Israel’s innovation in science and technology, and now the energy independence that natural gas discoveries can provide, establish a strong foundation for future economic growth.”
Secretary Lew concluded his visit to Israel by meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In their meeting Secretary Lew stressed our commitment to vigorously enforcing U.S. sanctions on Iran while we implement the limited and temporary relief in the Joint Plan of Action.
Today, Secretary Lew traveled to Berlin, Germany. Stay tuned to Treasury Notes and follow Treasury on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.
Anthony Reyes works in the Office of Public Affairs at the United States Department of the Treasury.