LONDON, May 2 (UPI) -- The British government has a long history of friendship with the United Arab Emirates, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
Hague said the British government was appreciative of its long-standing ties to the United Arab Emirates, which gained independence from the British government in 1971.
"The U.K. has a long history of friendship and cooperation with the United Arab Emirates," Hague said in a statement. "They are an essential ally in a region of critical importance."
The British government said both sides expressed "deep concern" about the humanitarian situation in Syria.
"(Their) partnership is rooted in common values such as tolerance, religious freedom and the empowerment of women," the government added.
Rights group pressed Cameron to challenge Emirati officials on their human rights record. Director of Middle East programs for Human Rights Watch Sarah Leah Whitson said Emirati citizens are imprisoned and abused for speaking their minds.
More than 90 people are on trial in the United Arab Emirates on suspicion of plotting against the government.