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Investment, counter-terrorism among 16 India-UAE pacts likely
February 8, 2016, 4:38 pm

At least 16 pacts in a wide range of sectors like nuclear energy, oil, IT, aerospace and railways, facilitating billions of dollars of investment by UAE in India, are likely to be inked during the visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to India here beginning Wednesday.

Ways to contain radicalism, stepping up counter-terrorism cooperation and dealing with Daesh will figure prominently in talks Shaikh Mohammad will have with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, Ahmed Al Banna, UAE Ambassador said.

A major focus of the three-day visit which comes around six months after Modi’s trip to UAE, 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,” said Al Banna.

The envoy said the agreements will lead to “huge investment portfolio” in diverse areas, including renewable energy, oil and gas and some other major sectors.

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 $60 billion. UAE, a major player in the Gulf region, is a strategically important country for India.

The UAE is home to around 2.6 million Indians and was the sixth largest supplier of crude oil to India in 2014-15.

Al Banna said Modi’s visit to his country, after a gap of 34 years by an Indian Prime Minister, has opened a new path in strengthening ties and Shaikh Mohammad’s trip will further build on it.

“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”.

Shaikh Mohammad will also call on Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

On containing Daesh, the envoy 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”.

He said UAE’s cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism with India and many other countries has increased in the last one year and will expand further.

On investment in India by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, he said things are moving fast and that many other private investors from UAE are also looking at investing in India in a significant way.

He said the business delegation will go straight to Mumbai where they will have in-depth talks with their Indian counterparts.

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.”

On Modi’s possible visit to Israel, he said it was India’s prerogative.

Asked whether the situation in Syria will figure in talks, the envoy said a number of pressing global and regional issues including situation in the strife-torn country may be discussed.

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