'No request for UAE consulate in Kerala'

The Indian ambassador to the UAE has said there are no formal plans to open new UAE diplomatic missions in India.

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DUBAI // The Indian ambassador to the UAE has ended speculation that the Emirates plans to open a diplomatic mission in Kerala.

Ambassador MK Lokesh attended meetings in India this week between Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, and S M Krishna, India's external affairs minister.

"There is no proposal from the UAE to open more consulates in India," said Mr Lokesh. "There was no formal request from Indian officials that the UAE open another consulate in India, either. The matter was not discussed at any official stage," he said.

The ambassador did say, however, that the need for more UAE diplomatic missions on the subcontinent had been raised informally.

"At an informal level, the issue of opening more consulates in India - including Kerala - was discussed," he said.

There are 1.75 million Indian expatriates in the UAE, and people from Kerala - known as Keralites - are thought to comprise up to half of that number.

The UAE has an embassy in the capital city, New Delhi, and a consulate in Mumbai, India's financial capital. However, Kerala is 2,500 kilometres from New Delhi, and 1,400km from Mumbai.

Sheikh Abdullah arrived in India on June 26 for a two-day official visit to boost trade and economic co-operation between the two countries.

He also met the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and the national security adviser, Shiv Shankar Menon.