India made a serious attempt to use the February 10-12 visit of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to bolster bilateral ties, as the two countries signed nine agreements, including on cyber security and infrastructure investment, on Thursday.
In the presence of Sheikh Mohamed and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior officials of both the countries also inked agreements for strengthening co-operation in different areas, such as renewable energy, space exploration, insurance, culture, skill development, trade and business, and currency swap.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that the two leaders discussed various ways to promote bilateral co-operation. During their meeting, the Indian premier informed his guest that New Delhi has always considered Abu Dhabi as its important strategic partner in West Asia. According to Modi, the UAE has emerged as a hub, connecting the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to other parts of the world, driving regional connectivity and opportunity. He further said that Sheikh Mohamed’s three-day trip to India would certainly serve the interest of the two countries. Modi and Sheikh Mohamed also discussed important regional and international issues, including current political and security developments in the region, like violence and terrorism.
For his part, the Crown Prince said that his country wanted to push its relationship with India forward on the basis of mutual respect and common interests. He praised the Indian community for their contributions to the development and economic growth of the UAE, saying that 60% of 2.6 million expatriate Indians in the West Asian nation are blue collar workers.
A senior External Affairs Ministry official told the media that the UAE plans to diversify its oil-centric economy because of the falling prices of crude. The West Asian nation focuses mainly on solar-energy and IT sector that sync with India’s economic strengths and priorities, he explained. According to the official, India has welcomed the UAE’s decision to invest around USD 5 billion in infrastructure development in the South Asian country. Another major area of converging interest is security and counter-terrorism. The rise of extremist groups, like the Islamic State (IS), has prompted the UAE to exchange intelligence inputs with India. During his stay in the Indian capital, Sheikh Mohamed made it clear that Abu Dhabi would like to tackle terrorism jointly with New Delhi, as it presents a challenge to both countries.
Sheikh Mohamed, who also called on Indian President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s Palace) on Thursday night, was accompanied by Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Court Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, among others.