Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed visits Presidential Palace in Delhi ahead of meetings with Modi

Sheikh Mohammed is the chief guest at India’s 2017 Republic Day celebrations.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed inspects a guard of honour during his ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi. Adnan Abidi / Reuters
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NEW DELHI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, will on Wednesday morning inspect a ceremonial guard of honour in the forecourts of the presidential palace in New Delhi.

The ceremony, scheduled to start at 10am local time, will be witnessed by India’s president Pranab Mukherjee, vice president Mohammad Hamid Ansari, prime minister Narendra Modi and ministers and senior officials from both India and the UAE.

Sheikh Mohammed is the chief guest at India’s 2017 Republic Day celebrations being held from January 24 to 26. He arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday evening and was received at the airport by prime minister Mr Modi.

Sheikh Mohammed hailed India as the linchpin of security in Asia, according to the state news agency, Wam.

“Today, the UAE, under the leadership of Sheikh Khalifa, treats our relationship with India as a priority,” Wam quoted him as saying.

Mohamed bin Zayed waters two Tree of Friendship at Lodhi Gardens-- one planted by late Sheikh Zayed, the other HH planted on earlier visit

This is Sheikh Mohammed’s second state visit to India in less than a year.

The visit could well lead to a surge in investments from the UAE to India and enhance bilateral cooperation in the matters of trade, energy supplies, defence, intelligence sharing and other security-related matters.

Sheikh Mohammed has a busy day ahead of him as he is scheduled to participate in one-on-one meetings with India’s prime minister, vice president and the president during the day on bilateral, regional and global issues. He will also be present at delegation-level talks in New Delhi’s Hyderabad House. This will be followed by a signing of a memorandum of understanding by officials from both the countries.

Senior Indian government officials say a raft of bilateral agreements could be signed during the state visit. This may include a partnership agreement that would set the tone for future dialogues, according to Indian officials.

India is hoping that there will be an MoU signed between Abu Dhabi and India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund for investments into India to the tune of US$75 billion over a period of time.

A senior Indian official on Tuesday said the UAE has become India’s “strategic partner in the energy sector and will be both investing and filling up one of our strategic petroleum reserves”.

A UAE military contingent will march in the Republic Day par­ade on Thursday, where Sheikh Mohammed will be present as the chief guest.

Sheikh Mohammed is the most prominent Arab leader to be invited to be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations in recent years. The late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had been the chief guest in 2006.

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