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Abu Dhabi crown prince’s India visit to boost cooperation on terror, trade

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince to be chief guest at India’s Republic Day anniversary on January 26

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With Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan – Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces – touching down in New Delhi as Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day parade on Thursday (January 26) he has more than just ceremonies in mind. The substance behind this visit is mainly trade and terror.

After all, the UAE has invested in its relations with the world’s largest democracy with which it also has an energy-labor interdependence for decades. The UAE has been a significant contributor to India’s energy security. It was the fifth largest supplier of crude oil in 2015-16 and petroleum reserves is a key area in which the two sides hope to reach an agreement.

According to reports emerging from the Indian capital, the two sides are likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a $75 billion investment fund during the visit. “The UAE, of course, also has the largest sovereign wealth fund (SWF),” Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, said.

It is not surprising at all that a large delegation comprising ministers and businessmen is accompanying Sheikh Mohammed. “We are adding a new element to this relationship of just being a buyer that UAE has decided to become a strategic partner in the energy sector,” Sinha said.

A new element

Days ago, India’s newly appointed ambassador to the UAE, Navdeep Suri, hailed the exceptional ties between the two countries. Suri said that the relation between the two countries has witnessed unprecedented development in the areas of investment and trade relations.

“The strategic dialogue between the UAE and India aims at discussing agreements between the two countries and co-operation in the areas of counter-terrorism, trade relations and investment,” he was quoted by Al-Khaleej as saying.

“There are thousands of Indian investors and companies in the UAE, besides the 2.6 million Indians living in the country,” the ambassador said. According to him, investments between the two countries are expected to grow in line with the growth of the Indian economy.

A UAE contingent takes part in full dress rehearsal for the upcoming Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 23, 2017. (AFP)
A UAE contingent takes part in full dress rehearsal for the upcoming Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 23, 2017. (AFP)

The terror element

On the other hand, the UAE ambassador to India, Ahmed al-Banna, has said that the UAE pledges total support to India in combating terrorism, as it looked towards elevating bilateral defense and security ties and signing a Strategic Cooperation Agreement during the visit of Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

The pacts are part of 16 agreements to be signed between the two countries after talks on Wednesday. “We cooperate with India to combat extremists and terrorists all over the world and we support the Indian authorities and government in their endeavor to protect itself from any terrorist or extremist group,” he said.

The UAE ambassador also said the national security advisers of the UAE and India have been holding consultations regularly. According to media reports, after the first Strategic Dialogue on January 20, the UAE side, led by Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, held a meeting with Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Adviser.

“India’s Republic Day is a very solemn function and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is going to be our chief guest. Last year it was the US President, which shows the importance we give to this relationship,” Piyush Goyal, India’s Energy, Coal and Mines Minister, told Al Arabiya in Abu Dhabi last week.

“This is also demonstrated by the fact that our present prime minister [Modi] is the first in 34 years to have visited the UAE,” he said.

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