President Biden congratulated Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday after he was elected as president of the United Arab Emirates by the Federal Supreme Council of the UAE.

“I congratulate my long-time friend Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on his election as President of the United Arab Emirates,” Biden wrote. “As I told Sheikh Mohammed yesterday during our phone call, the United States is determined to honor the memory of the late president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan by continuing to strengthen the strategic partnership between our countries over the coming months and years.”

The election of Sheikh Mohammed, who is the leader of Abu Dhabi in addition to president of the union, follows the death of Sheikh Khalifa, the late president of the UAE, on Friday.

The U.S. relationship with the UAE has been strained in recent years. Since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. has sought to convince the UAE and other oil-producing countries in the Gulf to increase their production to help lower prices.

The Emirates News Agency (WAM), the official news organization of the UAE, announced the passing of Sheikh Khalifa, saying that the country will observe a forty-day “state mourning” and that all work will be suspended until Tuesday.

Biden called the UAE an “an essential partner of the United States” in his statement, referencing Abu Dhabi’s close relationship with Washington.

“Sheikh Mohammed, whom I met with several times as Vice President when he was the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, has long been at the forefront of building this partnership,” Biden said. “I look forward to working with Sheikh Mohammed to build from this extraordinary foundation to further strengthen the bonds between our countries and peoples.”

The Federal Supreme Council of the UAE includes the sheikhs, or leaders, of the seven emirates, or states, of the country.

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