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  • Demonstrators spell out "#No Muslim Ban" during a protest U.S. President Donald Trump

    Demonstrators spell out "#No Muslim Ban" during a protest U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban in Boston. | Photo: Reuters

The UAE, a major oil exporter, is a close ally of the United States and a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamist militants in Syria.

The United Arab Emirates' foreign minister said Wednesday President Donald Trump's travel ban on citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries was an internal affair not directed at any faith, a more measured reaction than others from the region.

Trump's order affecting Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has triggered protests across the United States and beyond.

But Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said most Muslims and Muslim countries were not included in the ban and the named states faced "challenges" that they needed to address.

"The United States has taken a decision that is within the American sovereign decision," Sheikh Abdullah said at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Abu Dhabi.

"There are attempts to give the impression that this decision is directed against a particular religion, but what proves this talk to be incorrect first is what the U.S. administration itself says ... that this decision is not directed at a certain religion."

The UAE, a major oil exporter, is a close ally of the United States and a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamist militants in Syria.

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