India, UAE hold first strategic dialogue

New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) Ahead of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s arrival here as chief guest for this year’s Republic Day celebrations, India and the UAE held their first strategic dialogue on Friday keeping with the decision to elevate the bilateral relationship to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

“Pursuant to the decision to elevate their relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the exchange of the visits at the highest level between India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in August 2015 and February 2016, the two sides held the first meeting of strategic dialogue between the two foreign offices on January 20 in New Delhi,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

It said that in the meeting, which was co-chaired Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar and his UAE counterpart Anwar Mahammed Gargash, “the two sides were represented by strong delegations drawn from a number of relevant ministries and departments”.

“During the meeting, the two sides discussed a number of issues ranging from cooperation in the areas of trade and investments to expanding the bilateral cooperation to new areas under the strategic partnership, inter alia in the areas of energy security and renewable energy, defence and security, electronics and information technology and space,” the statement said.

Stating that the meeting provided an opportunity to prepare for the forthcoming state visit of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi as the chief guest of the Republic Day celebrations, it said: “The two sides agreed on a number of new initiatives to further strengthen the bilateral cooperation and on signing of fresh instruments of cooperation.”

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE in August 2015, the two countries had agreed to elevate the mutually beneficial relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Sheikh Mohamed, who reaches here on January 24, will be on his second visit to India since February 2016.

Bilateral trade between India and the UAE stood at about $50 billion in 2015-16.

The Gulf nation is among the top investors in India in terms of foreign direct investments and was the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to India in 2015-16.

At 2.6 million, Indians form the largest expatriate group in the UAE.