The UAE is the only Arab country whose relations with Germany has reached the 'strategic' levels, a senior German diplomat affirmed.

Ambassador Philipp Ackermann � Director General for Near and Middle East, Africa and Latin America at the German Foreign Ministry, told the UAE daily 'The National' in an exclusive interview that his country's relations with the UAE transcend trade and business to cooperation in world's affairs.

"There is only one Arab country with which we have elevated our relationship to the level of a strategic partnership � and that is the UAE. While the UAE represents the largest trading partner for Germany in the Middle East, with more than 900 German companies operating here, partnership is not only about business. It is about sustainability, renewables, tolerance and much, much more."

Ackermann, who on Thursday evening completed a two-day visit to the UAE, had a long history of working with Abu Dhabi, including collaborating on development projects in Afghanistan.

"We have been working with the UAE for a long time," he said, referring to his personal experience of rebuilding a school in Kunduz, Afghanistan that taught English, computer skills and was built on "de-radicalisation" principles in partnership with the UAE.

"When we renovated this madrassa, we realised what a role model the UAE was in this part of the world."

Ackermann expressed his confidence that Germany's strategic partnership with the UAE will come to new flourishing heights very soon.

"The UAE leadership has recently named Minister of State Dr. Sultan Al Jaber as his special envoy and he has been in Germany twice already."

"Dr. Al Jaber has been received warmly and had very in-depth talks. We will work together intensively to formulate ways to further enhance our strategic partnership."

On the situation in Yemen, he emphasised that there needs to be an increase in efforts for a political solution, a position shared with the UAE.

"Our clear political focus is to support UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and his efforts to find a solution. A military solution is leading nowhere," he said.

Despite Griffiths' efforts to start a political process in Yemen, the Houthis have stalled the implementation of what was agreed last December in Stockholm talks.

"It is crucial to implement Stockholm now. The coalition has shown quite an impressive amount of willingness, which is not so much true for the Houthis."

He added that Germany has had decades of involvement in Yemen, mainly in development.

"The enormous amount of humanitarian aid by the UAE to the people suffering in Yemen is impressive."

Meanwhile, Iran has been a principal supporter of the Houthis in Yemen, supplying them with arms and training, which has further drawn out the war.

"Together with our European partners, we make no secret of our position that this is of serious concern," Ackermann said. "But we have to do that through dialogue and interaction."

The German concerns about Iran's behaviour are not limited to Yemen.

"There is no secret that we consider Iran a difficult partner, particularly because of its actions in the region."

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs