Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed arrives in India for Republic Day celebrations
NEW DELHI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed hailed India as a linchpin of security in Asia as he arrived in Delhi on Tuesday for 68th Republic Day celebrations.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces was met at the airport by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.
Sheikh Mohammed will be the chief guest at this year’s celebrations during his landmark three-day visit. The honour was previously given to Barack Obama, French president Francois Hollande and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.
It is the Crown Prince’s second visit to India in less than a year.
Mr Modi made a historic visit to the UAE in August 2015, when the countries agreed to strengthen ties in areas such as trade and investment, security and counter-terrorism.
“UAE-India relations enjoy a deep history that extends to hundreds of years before the founding of the UAE in 1971,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, visited India in 1975, paving the way for relations between the countries.
“Today the UAE, under the leadership of President Sheikh Khalifa, treats our relationship with India as a priority,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“And it views India as a linchpin of stability in Asia and a major partner in the global efforts towards stability, development and the battle against terrorism.”
For centuries, the countries have shared cultural ties linking together the peoples of India and the GCC, Sheikh Mohammed said, according to the state news agency Wam.
He said the Indian expatriate community had made a massive contribution to the UAE’s development.
“We are deeply thankful for their contributions to our nation,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “The fact that UAE-India relations have made it to this strategic level is a testimony that this relationship is backed by a strong political will from both nations.
“Therefore, I am confident that the coming period will witness a breakthrough in turning our strategic agreements into actionable programmes that serve the interests of our two friendly nations.”
Mr Modi welcomed Sheikh Mohammed, saying India was honoured to host him.
“India and the UAE share strong bonds of friendship and extensive cooperation,” Mr Modi said on Twitter. “Looking forward to building on this and further cementing ties.”