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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

India's Modi in Abu Dhabi to witness signing of wide range of agreements with UAE

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed receives Indian prime minister in the capital 

The UAE and India have agreed to a wide range of programmes including on energy, transport and financial markets, that will see the two nations strengthen their strategic co-operation on regional and international issues, to coincide with Narendra Modi's arrival in the Emirates on Saturday.

The Indian Prime Minister and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, witnessed the signing of an agreement and four memorandums of understanding. It had been expected that agreements in the fields of energy, defence and education would be part of the visit of the Indian prime minister, as well as furthering trade and investment between the two countries.

An agreement was signed by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company to give a consortium of Indian companies a stake in one of the emirate's offshore oil concessions.

Sheikh Mohammed said that the concession deal "reflects the maturity of the long-standing strategic relationship between the UAE and India, and will underpin opportunities for growth, as the two countries deepen commercial ties".

It was also agreed to implement a previously announced strategic oil storage deal and the UAE and India also entered into an MoU on manpower co-operation as well agreeing to collaborate in the field of transport. MoUs were also signed for exploring opportunities in finance and trade and capital markets.

On the agreements signed, Mr Modi said “we had extensive deliberations on boosting India-UAE cooperation and how this can benefit our nations as well as the whole world.”

The two leaders discussed areas of co-operation and regional and international issues. Sheikh Mohammed said that the UAE and India are "two major forces of stability and development in the region and the world and that both countries play an important role in bringing about peace and in confronting extremism, terrorism and violence", according to Wam.

He highlighted the inspiring approach of both UAE founder Sheikh Zayed and India's Mahatma Ghandi.

"The world is in dire need, today more than ever, to revive the values embraced and lived by those two leaders, especially in light of the ongoing conflicts, wars and the spread of extremism, fanaticism and hate dogmas," Sheikh Mohammed said.

Mr Modi stressed his country’s keenness on boosting friendly ties and strategic cooperation in different areas with the UAE.

He was in Abu Dhabi on Saturday as part of a two-day state visit to the UAE that will also include an address at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday.

Sheikh Mohamed led a group of UAE senior officials to welcome Mr Modi at the Presidential Airport.

The UAE and Indian national anthems were played after which the artillery fired a 21-gun salute.

There were warm words of welcome for Mr Modi from Sheikh Mohammed.

"His visit reflects our longstanding historical ties and is testament to our friendly bilateral relationship," Sheikh Mohammed said on twitter on Saturday.

Mr Modi said on twitter that the programmes will have "a positive impact on India-UAE ties".

Mr Modi arrived in Abu Dhabi from Ramallah where he became the first time an Indian prime minister to visit the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where he pledged funds for a hospital and three schools.

He also attended a banquet hosted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Saturday.

Among those who welcomed the Indian prime minister at the airport were Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region,Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

Historically, both nations have had friendly ties, but over the past two years strategic co-operation has increased with keen interest from both sides in identifying sectors of growth such as collaborations in defence, security, space and exploring joint opportunities in markets such as Africa, Latin America and Central Asia.

The UAE is home to 3.3 million Indians many of whom have lived here for over three decades including families in which children were born here, studied in the Emirates and now work in this country.

There has been a sustained focus over the past few years to build stronger ties with the first visit of Mr Modi to the UAE in 2015 as prime minister and two visits by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to New Delhi in less than a year.

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Bilateral trade has grown from $182 million in the 1980s to $53 billion in the year 2016-17 and the UAE is among India’s top investors and the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to the south Asian nation, according 2015-16 data.

Mr Modi has a packed schedule in the Emirates where he will visit the Wahat Al Karama, the monument to fallen UAE soldiers on Sunday morning and speak to the Indian community at the Dubai Opera.

He will preside over the ground breaking ceremony of the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the region and Abu Dhabi’s first temple via a live screening that will be beamed into the Dubai Opera.

Photographs and literature on the temple were also presented to the Crown Prince and the Indian prime minister on Saturday by members of the temple committee.

Mr Modi will on Sunday also meet about 50 Indian businessmen and address the World Government Summit where he is a key speaker.

The last stop in his Middle East tour is Oman.