India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are tipped to ink at least 16 pacts in a wide range of sectors like nuclear energy, oil, IT, aerospace and railways during Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayad Al Nahayan’s Delhi visit beginning Wednesday. On a three-day visit, the Crown prince will be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
The two leaders will also take up the issue of rising terrorism in the region and discuss the ways to contain radicalism, stepping up counter-terrorism cooperation and dealing with the ISIS.
The visit is seen as a reciprocation of PM Modi’s UAE trip six months ago. A major focus of the three-day visit by the influential UAE leader will be on stepping up economic ties.
“We have on hand around 16 agreements for cooperation between different ministries and authorities. Out of 16, almost 12 have been finalised and ready for signature. Hopefully all the 16 will be signed,” UAE Ambassador Ahmed Al Banna said.
Al Banna further added that the agreements will lead to “huge investment portfolio” in diverse areas including renewable energy, oil and gas and some other major sectors. Meanwhile, the pact on nuclear cooperation will provide for peaceful use of atomic energy as research and development in the area. UAE has similar pact with France and some other countries.
India is UAE’s number one trading partner and the annual trade currently stands at around USD 60 billion. UAE, a major player in the Gulf region, is a strategically important country for India. Besides, the country is home to around 2.6 million Indians who constitute nearly 30 per cent of its population. It was the sixth largest supplier of crude oil to India in 2014-15.
“It (the visit) will reinforce the ongoing relationship and will take us to the next (level) that both sides are looking at which is strategic cooperation, strategic coordination and strategic relationship,” the envoy said.
Identifying terrorism as a major threat facing the world, the envoy said both India and UAE are increasing security and counter-terrorism cooperation to deal with the menace. On the issue of checking radicalism, he said India and UAE will work “hand in hand to fight them. Yes there will be some cooperation on this”.
Whereas, on containing ISIS, he said both the countries will have cooperation while identifying the social media as a major platform being used by “fanatics” to radicalise people. Al Banna said his government has already set up specialised centres to educate people about those who use the social media the “wrong way”.
During his three-day visit, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee.
Asked about the proposed free trade agreement between India and Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Al Banna hoped it will be finalised soon. “We want it to be signed as soon as possible”.
(With inputs from the PTI)