ABU DHABI // The UAE yesterday pledged support for India's bid to secure a seat on the UN Security Council.
Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, said India had the right to be a member, according to a statement by Lata Reddy, a secretary with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs following a talk between him and the Indian president, Pratibha Patil.
The UAE's endorsement comes shortly after President Barack Obama told the Indian parliament during a three-day visit that the US would also support India's bid.
The Security Council has five permanent members with veto power over decisions related to international security. Next year, India begins a two-year rotation as one of 10 non-permanent members.
Food security was also near the top of the agenda for Mrs Patil, who is looking to UAE investors in order to improve agricultural production and increase food processing, according to Ms Reddy. Sheikh Khalifa agreed that the idea should be pursued, she said.
India is looking for investment in research and development that will help increase the yields and productivity of a farming system that still largely relies on traditional methods.
A maritime security co-operation pact with India will also be signed shortly to increase patrols in the Indian Ocean.
Mrs Patil spoke to Indian expatriates at the India Social and Cultural Centre last night.
More than a thousand members gathered to welcome the Indian president to Abu Dhabi. Wearing a teal and gold silk sari, Mrs Patil lit the ceremonial brass lamp, which traditionally signifies the start of an auspicious occasion.
"You have earned a reputation of being hard working and law abiding," she told the crowd. "I urge the Indian community to remain responsible to the changing needs of this country. As members of a vibrant community, you have made India proud."
There are 1.75 million Indians living in the UAE, one of the Emirates' largest diasporas.
"Be they the skilled workers building hi-tech buildings or professionals in the knowledge-based sectors, or health care, hospitals, tourism - they have all played a forging role in the building of UAE," she said.
She thanked the expatriate community for their remittances that form a significant amount of foreign exchange that is sent to India.
"Your sustained remittances have contributed to the revenues of India," said Mrs Patil. "It has made us the biggest recipient of remittances in the world."
Last year, India received US$50bn (Dh183.6bn) in remittances from around the world.
Reacting to the speech by Mrs Patil, B Yesuseelan, the general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Malayalee Samajan, said he felt gratified about his contributions to the UAE economy as an Indian expatriate.
More than 200 members from his associations listened to Mrs Patil speak.
"It is an excellent subject she has talked about. She reminded us that our contributions matter," said Mr Yesuseelan. "This is the first time I have seen an Indian head of state."
Ravi Menon, the general manager of Vision Medical Equipment, was at a special session with the president before she addressed the crowd. He said he introduced himself to her when she met with business and community leaders from Abu Dhabi.
"I am proud to have our president here in the UAE," said Mr Menon. "Recently, there has been a lot of talk in India of creating more facilities for Indian expatriates."
Mrs Patil arrived in the UAE on Sunday night, and was greeted by Sheikha Lubna, the Minister of Foreign Trade.
Mrs Patil began her four-day visit by meeting Sheikh Khalifa. At the Mushrif Palace yesterday afternoon, 21 cannons were fired to salute her, said WAM, the state news agency.