Stepping up their cooperation, India and the UAE tonight signed a wide-ranging set of seven agreements including on cyber security, infrastructure investment and insurance after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
At their restricted as well as delegation-level talks here, the two leaders deliberated extensively on combating threat of terrorism including from ISIS, and explored ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism, maritime security and defence.
The pact on cyber space will provide for greater synergy between security agencies of the two countries to combat efforts to radicalise youths through online platforms besides checking activities of terror groups.
Modi had visited UAE in August last year during which it was decided to elevate the relationship to “comprehensive strategic partnership”, providing for greater cooperation in strategic areas including defence and security.
Expanding economic engagement, particularly in oil and renewable energy sector and increasing UAE’s investment in India, was a major focus area at the deliberations.
UAE’s national oil company Adnoc has already agreed to store crude oil in India’s maiden strategic storage and give two-third of the oil to it for free. India is building underground storages at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Mangalore and Padur in Karnataka to store about 5.33 million tonnes of crude oil.
Another pact was signed for creating a framework for facilitating participation of UAE’s institutional investors in India’s infrastructure sector while a separate agreement provides for cooperation in the insurance sector.
A total of seven pacts were signed between the two sides out of which four were inked in presence of Modi and Al Nahyan. Another pact between Dubai Economic Council and Export Import Bank of India will be signed in Mumbai tomorrow.
UAE has a sovereign wealth fund of around USD 800 billion and India hopes to attract a sizable investment from it in several key sectors.
The MoUs signed will also provide for cooperation in areas of skill development, space and cultural exchanges.
Modi held talks with the Crown Prince for a restricted meeting at his residence before delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House later in the evening. They continued their discussions over dinner as well.
Both the leaders deliberated on range of key issues including threat of ISIS, radicalism and the Mideast situation.
“Productive interaction with HH Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Avenues of India-UAE cooperation are immense,” Modi tweeted.
The Crown Prince also met President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari. The President also hosted a lunch for the visiting leader.
Food security was another area which was discussed at length at the delegation level talks between Modi and Al Nahyan. UAE is keen to increase its import of food from India.
In the talks, the UAE side also mentioned about the contribution of the 2.6 million Indian diaspora in overall development of the country.
During Modi’s visit to UAE, it was decided to increase the current volume of bilateral trade by 60 per cent in the next five years and the issue figured in the talks today. The annual bilateral trade currently is around USD 60 billion.
India is UAE’s number one trading partner while the Gulf nation is India’s third largest trading partner after the US and China. UAE is India’s second largest export destination.
For India’s energy security, UAE is an important country as it gets 9.38 per cent of total crude requirement from that country. The volume of supply in 2014-15 was 15.99 million tonnes.
Economy of UAE, one of the leading producers of oil, has been hit hard by falling crude prices and it is expected that the Gulf nation would like to invest significantly in India’s energy and infrastructure sectors.
The two countries had already agreed to make bilateral investments in the petroleum sector and also take up joint projects in third country.
UAE has initiated a Mars mission for 2020 and India has agreed to assist that country in the project.
Earlier, Al Nahyan was accorded a guard of honour at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He also visited Rajghat and paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi.
Nahyan arrived last evening on a three-day visit to a warm welcome as the Prime Minister, breaking from protocol, received him at the airport.