India-UAE ties set to get further boost

New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) With Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan arriving here on Tuesday on a three-day visit to India, India’s ties with the UAE are expected to get a further boost.

Sheikh Mohamed, who will attend this year’s Republic Day celebrations as chief guest, will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including ministers, senior officials and captains of industry.

This will be his second visit to India since his visit in February last year.

The bilateral relationship between the two countries got a huge boost with the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in August 2015.

It was the first prime ministerial visit from India to the UAE in 34 years after the visit of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in May 1981.

Following Modi’s visit, the two countries decided to elevate their relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. In the course of Modi’s visit and the return visit by Sheikh Mohamed last year, both sides agreed to cooperate across a wide range of issues.

The UAE committed $75 billion to support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next-generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks.

The UAE being a significant contributor to India’s energy security — it was the fifth largest supplier of crude oil in 2015-16 — both sides have agreed to promote strategic partnership in the energy sector, including through the UAE’s participation in India in the development of strategic petroleum reserves, upstream and downstream petroleum sectors, and collaboration in third countries.

In the area of defence cooperation, both sides have renewed their commitment to strengthening the existing cooperation in training, joint exercises, and participation in defence exhibitions, as well as in identifying opportunities to cooperate on the production of defence equipment in India under the Make in India campaign.

Given the rise of the quasi-state terror organisation Islamic State and also terrorism within India’s border’s and in South Asia, both sides agreed to coordinate efforts to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries by facilitating regular exchanges of religious scholars and intellectuals and organising conferences and seminars to promote the values of peace, tolerance, inclusiveness and welfare that is inherent in all religions.

Both sides have also agreed to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing and capacity building and to promote cooperation in cyber security.

With the UAE being India’s third largest trading partner, both sides have also agreed to increase bilateral trade by at least 60 per cent within the next five years. Trade between the two countries stood at $50 billion in 2015-16.

At 2.6 million, Indians form the largest expatriate population in the UAE and hence cultural ties and people-to-people contacts form an important element to the bilateral relationship.

The image of Indians in the UAE have been generally positive and their contributions to the development of the host country have been well appreciated.

India’s relationaship with the UAE is crucial to New Delhi’s renewed thrust in reaching out to the extended neighbourhood in the west.

Hence, Sheikh Mohamed’s upcoming visit assumes very high significance, say observers.

–IANS

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