India reaffirms strategic partnership with UAE on Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed’s visit

UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and Indian PM Narendra Modi discuss relations in Delhi

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, greets UAE Foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
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India affirmed on Tuesday that its strategic partnership with the UAE had deepened further after the official three-day visit of UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.

"The visit of the Foreign Minister provided an opportunity to both sides to constructively build on the vision of the comprehensive strategic partnership and to broaden co-operation in various sectors,” the Indian government said.

Sheikh Abdullah met Dr S Jaishankar, the Indian External Affairs Minister, who hosted a dinner in his honour on Monday.

On Tuesday afternoon, he met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The two discussed bilateral ties and the “means of boosting them across various sectors to realise the goals and aspirations of the two countries”, the state news agency Wam reported.

“Sheikh Abdullah and Prime Minister Modi also reviewed regional and international developments, and exchanged views on various issues of mutual concern,” it said.

Sheikh Abdullah passed on the congratulations of the UAE leadership on Mr Modi's resounding victory in the elections, and extended an invitation to visit the UAE.

Mr Modi thanked Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, for conferring on him the prestigious Order of Zayed.

He said he was proud to receive the award on behalf of 1.3 billion Indians.

“Both leaders expressed happiness at the current state of bilateral relations and discussed regional issues," Wam reported.

"They also agreed to build on these growing strategic links as well as further their trilateral co-operation initiatives, especially in Africa."

Sheikh Abdullah's visit comes at a time when energy security is high on India's agenda after US sanctions on importing oil from Iran.

“The UAE will be a key partner in energy, trade and security in India's quest to become a $5 trillion [Dh18.36tn] economy during Prime Minister Modi's current term to 2024," said Rajeev Sharma, a global strategic affairs analyst.

“Sheikh Abdullah's India visit demonstrates the fact that the two sides are staying engaged at high levels.

"For India, energy security is a high priority these days. In the wake of the continuing Iran conundrum and a significant drop in Russian oil production, the UAE contribution to Indian oil imports assumes an even greater significance.”

The UAE is India's third-largest trade partner and fourth-largest energy supplier. The country is also home to the Gulf region's largest community of Indians – 3.3 million.

Mr Modi visited the UAE in August 2015 during which the two countries decided to increase their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership. He visited the UAE in February last year.

As the chair of Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, the UAE invited India as the guest of honour at the 46th Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Abu Dhabi in March.

Sheikh Mohamed made state visits to New Delhi in 2016 and 2017. During the visit in January 2017, he was the chief guest at India's Republic Day celebrations.

During that visit, the UAE and India pledged to expand their trade by 60 per cent over five years.

Last year in the UAE, the two leaders reviewed progress towards realising the $75 billion target for UAE investment in India’s infrastructure development.

In October 2017, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority signed an agreement with India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund to invest $1bn in India.

Trade between India and the UAE is estimated to be about $50bn. The UAE is one of the biggest sources of foreign direct investment in India and contributes significantly to its energy security.

It was the fifth-largest supplier of crude oil to India in 2015 and 2016. By May this year, the UAE had passed Venezuela as India's fourth-largest crude oil supplier.

The latest industry estimates project an increase in bilateral trade that outstrips the official target, with direct and indirect trade reaching $100bn by 2020.