Indian prime minister’s UAE visit ushers new deals

Abu Dhabi: A new era began in Indo-UAE relations with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arriving in Abu Dhabi on a two-day official visit on Saturday evening.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, other shaikhs and senior officials welcomed Modi at the airport.

“We warmly welcome our state guest and valued friend, the Indian Prime Minister H.E. @narendramodi to the UAE. His visit reflects our long-standing historical ties and is testament to our friendly bilateral relationship,” Shaikh Mohammad tweeted, with photos of the two leaders hugging each other and exchanging greetings.

The leaders then held a bilateral meeting at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi. Modi is the first world leader to be hosted in the recently opened Presidential Palace, officials told Gulf News.

Nine agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed between both nations after the talks.

The most important agreements were related to the energy and manpower sectors, diplomatic sources told Gulf News on Saturday.

Hailing the state visit of Modi, Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told Gulf News: “This is part and parcel of … taking historic relationships to link it for the future … We have always had excellent relations. But [Indo-UAE] relation is being retold for future.”

He emphasised that the trajectory of the relationship with India has been phenomenal with the blessings of the top leaders of both the countries.

Diplomatic sources said four MoUs between private institutions in both countries were signed on Thursday and Saturday.

Five major deals were to be signed in the presence of Modi at the time of going to press.

The agreement on India’s participation in oil exploration in the UAE is the most important one, Gargash said.

Shaikh Mohammad hosted a banquet in honour of Modi after the bilateral talks and signing of the MoUs.

Modi reached the UAE after a historic visit to Palestine, the first Indian prime minister to do so, as part of a four-nation tour also covering Jordan and Oman.

His other high-level engagements include a bilateral meeting with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and a keynote address at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday, in which India is the guest country.

Modi is expected to visit Wahat Al Karama, a memorial for UAE martyrs in Abu Dhabi, and pay his respects to the fallen heroes on Sunday morning before leaving for Dubai.

The premier will interact with the Indian community at Dubai Opera later where he will also participate in the ground-breaking ceremony of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi through livestreaming.

He will also have a meeting with Arab CEOs in Dubai. The prime minister will leave for Oman from Dubai to conclude the visit to the region.

This is Modi’s second visit to the UAE in two-and-a-half years, following his maiden visit in August 2015, which was the first official visit of an Indian prime minister to the UAE in 34 years after Indira Gandhi’s visit in 1981.

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed also visited India twice in the same period — in February 2016 and January 2017.

The intensive high-level interactions have elevated the bilateral relations into a comprehensive strategic partnership.


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