President Sheikh Mohamed's meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday was an important “opportunity to reconnect” as the two leaders seek to build on the long-standing ties between their nations.
Mr Modi was greeted at the Presidential Airport in Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Mohamed on Tuesday in their first meeting in person since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Modi, once more, extended an invitation to the UAE President to visit India and the dates are being looked at, Sunjay Sudhir, Indian ambassador to the Emirates, told The National.
The interaction, which lasted more than an hour, took place when Mr Modi stopped over in the capital after attending the G7 summit in Germany.
“It was a fairly long meeting that lasted more than an hour and provided an opportunity for the leaders to reconnect in person after about three years,” Mr Sudhir said.
Modi pays tribute to Sheikh Khalifa
“The prime minister’s intention was to convey his personal condolences to the President and his family on the unfortunate passing of Sheikh Khalifa.
“The primary focus was on reconnecting, conveying condolences and also personal good wishes on being elected as the third President of this great country.”
Mr Modi earlier spoke to Sheikh Mohamed by phone to pay his respects in May.
“The prime minister did reiterate an invitation to the President to visit India sometime in the very near future, depending on his convenience, and we will work on dates through diplomatic channels,” Mr Sudhir said.
“It is a relationship between brothers, so the invitation has been there for sometime.”
Sombre personal visit
The bond between the two leaders was evident in Sheikh Mohamed receiving Mr Modi at the Presidential Airport in Abu Dhabi. The grey carpet on the tarmac signified the sombre nature of the visit.
“The personal warmth between the leadership is of an exceptional nature,” Mr Sudhir said.
The two leaders have met frequently since Mr Modi took office in 2014.
When Mr Modi came to the UAE in 2015, he became the first Indian prime minister to visit in 34 years. His next visits were in 2018 and 2019.
Sheikh Mohamed was the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations in 2017, his second visit in less than a year.
Mr Modi was scheduled to visit Expo 2020 Dubai in January but the plans were cancelled due to a surge in Omicron coronavirus cases in India.
Nations embark on new era of co-operation
“The leaders have been in touch, for instance on February 18, they connected through a virtual summit where they witnessed the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” Mr Sudhir said in reference to a trade deal between the two nations.
“This was the launch of an important joint vision statement that is a road map for decades to come. They are visionary leaders who regard each other as valuable partners for the next 50 years at least, going ahead.
“The document collaborates on new energy, investments, FinTech and defence co-operation.”
Tuesday’s meeting between the two leaders was also attended by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed, member of the Executive Council, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoon, adviser for special affairs at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs.