India, UAE strike 8 bilateral deals

The Asian Age.  | Sridhar Kumaraswami

India, All India

Modi welcomed by ‘brother’ Abu Dhabi Prez

This handout picture provided by the UAE Presidential Court shows UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R) bidding farewell to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a reception at the Presidential Airport in Abu Dhabi on February 13, 2024. (AFP)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday held talks in Abu Dhabi with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, after which the two countries signed eight agreements, including a Bilateral Investment Treaty, an Intergovernmental Framework Agreement on the India-Middle East Economic Corridor (IMEC), interlinking of the instant payment platforms -- UPI (India) and AANI (UAE) and inter-linking of domestic debit/credit cards -- RuPay (India) with JAYWAN (UAE), besides one on strengthening of energy security and collaboration. The two leaders “held one-on-one and delegation-level talks and reviewed the bilateral partnership and discussed new areas of cooperation”.

They also “welcomed deepening of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership across sectors, including trade and investment, digital infrastructure, fintech, energy, infrastructure, culture and people to people ties”, with “India now entering into long term contracts for LNG”. Discussions also covered regional and global issues, possibly including the Israel-Hamas conflict and the humanitarian situation in Gaza. In a reflection of the extremely close ties between the two nations and strong rapport between the two leaders, Mr Modi, on his arrival, was greeted by the UAE President at the airport in a “special and warm gesture” and accorded a ceremonial welcome.

Addressing the UAE President as his “brother” in his opening remarks ahead of the talks, Mr Modi thanked Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed “for his personal support and for his graciousness in granting the land for the construction of the BAPS Temple in Abu Dhabi” that will be inaugurated on Wednesday and the speed with which the decision on approvals for the temple construction was taken after Mr Modi made the request earlier. “Both sides noted that the BAPS Temple is a celebration of UAE-India friendship, deep-rooted cultural bonds and an embodiment of the UAE’s global commitment to harmony, tolerance and peaceful coexistence,” New Delhi said in a statement. Mr Modi said he feels at home and among his family whenever he visits the UAE and thanked his host. He also referred to “important decisions” between the two nations on Tuesday, including on the investment treaty and the IMEC. Mr Modi also referred to the affection and support of the UAE President that has made the ties between the two nations so unique and thanked the UAE President for his visit to India last month to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.

On the Bilateral Investment Treaty, the MEA said: “This agreement will be a key enabler for further promoting investments in both countries. India has signed both a Bilateral Investment Treaty and (an earlier) Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with UAE (in 2022).” The MoU on cooperation in the field of electrical interconnection and trade: “opens new areas of collaboration in the field of energy, including energy security and energy trade”, New Delhi said. The Intergovernmental Framework Agreement between India and UAE on the (earlier-announced) India-Middle East Economic Corridor “would build on previous understandings and cooperation on this matter and foster India and the UAE cooperation furthering regional connectivity”. The pact on interlinking of the instant payment platforms - UPI (India) and AANI (UAE) “will facilitate seamless cross-border transactions between the two countries” and “follows the MoU on interlinking payment and messaging systems signed in July last year”, New Delhi said. The pact on inter-linking domestic debit/credit cards—RuPay (India) with JAYWAN (UAE) is “an important step in building financial sector cooperation and will enhance the universal acceptance of RuPay across the UAE”, it added.   

In his departure statement from New Delhi earlier in the day, Mr Modi said: “Over the last nine years, our cooperation with the UAE in diverse sectors (like) trade and investment, defence and security, food and energy security and education has grown manifold. Our cultural and people-to-people connect is stronger than ever.” He added: “At the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president, PM and defence minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, I will be addressing the gathering of world leaders at the World Government Summit in Dubai on 14 Feb 2024. My discussions with Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on the margins of summit will focus on strengthening our multifaceted ties with Dubai. During the visit, I will also inaugurate the first Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi. The BAPS temple will be an enduring tribute to the values of harmony, peace and tolerance, which both India and the UAE share.”

On the second leg of the visit, Mr Modi added: “In Qatar, I am looking forward to meeting His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir, under whose leadership Qatar continues to witness tremendous growth and transformation. I am also looking forward to meeting other high dignitaries in Qatar. India and Qatar enjoy historically close and friendly relations. In recent years, our multifaceted ties have continued to deepen in all spheres including high level political exchanges, growing trade and investment between two countries, strengthening of our energy partnership, and cooperation in culture and education. The presence of over the 800,000 strong Indian community in Doha is a testament to our strong people-to-people ties.” On Monday, the Qatar Emir  approved the release of the eight Indian nationals and former naval personnel sentenced earlier to varying prison terms on alleged espionage charges, much to the delight of India.