India-UAE to ink 16 pacts
Agreements ranging from sectors like nuclear energy, oil, IT, aerospace and railways will facilitate billions of dollars of investment by UAE in India Source: PTI
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 Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayad Al Nahayan's visit to New Delhi beginning Wednesday. Ways to contain radicalism, stepping up counter-terrorism cooperation and dealing with the ISIS will figure prominently in talks Al Nahayan will have with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, UAE Ambassador Ahmed Al Banna said. A major focus of the three-day visit by the influential UAE leader, which comes around six months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to UAE, will be on stepping up economic ties. Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, has a sovereign wealth fund of about $800 billion. India has been eying the fund, parked with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, for its infrastructure sector and the envoy said there may be some announcements to this effect during Al Nahayan’s visit. “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 country is home to around 2.6 million Indians who constitute nearly 30% of its population. It 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 Al Nahayan’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”. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee. On containing ISIS, 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.
February 08, 2015 | 05:01pm IST.