Terrorism on talks agenda during Modi visit to UAE

New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) Terrorism would be high on the talks agenda during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Arab Emirates on August 16-17, in the first visit by an Indian head of government to the Gulf nation in 34 years.

Modi will be the first Indian prime minister to visit the UAE after Indira Gandhi, who visited the country in 1981.

The visit is “to fill in a gap of 34 years” with the country that is home to an expatriate community of 2.6 million and touch base with them, said an official source.

The talks are set to focus on trade, investment and security cooperation and also the large Indian diaspora, said sources.

“And bilaterally also, the visit is important, as it comes at a time when terrorism has become important in the region,” the sources told IANS.

On Sunday, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar met General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and handed over a letter from Prime Minister Modi.

According to a statement from the external affairs ministry, Modi’s official visit will be at the invitation of General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Modi will also meet Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, during the visit.

Modi is expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi on August 16 and will visit Dubai the next day.

The Indian community is gearing up to give Modi a grand reception at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium grounds on August 17 evening that is expected to draw more than 50,000 people.

The Indian Community Welfare Committee has launched a website — www.namoindubai.ae — for people to register for the event.

The group has also created a Facebook page, which interested Indians can check for details.

The Indian expatriate community is regarded as one of the largest ethnic communities in the UAE, making up almost 30 percent of the country’s population.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit is of great significance for the bilateral relations and social ties that exist between the UAE and India. We are not leaving any stone unturned to show our support and love for our homeland to our prime minister,” Shamsheer Vayalil, member of the organising committee, was quoted as telling Al Arabiya News.

“We are making all the possible efforts to ensure that the entire Indian community can become a part of this historic visit. We are hoping that this is a first of many visits by the Indian prime minister to the Emirates.”

India-UAE trade crossed $59 billion in 2014-15, making the country India’s third largest trading partner after China and the US.

India was the UAE’s largest non-oil trading partner in 2014. Both countries signed a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA) in 2013.

Indians in the UAE are the largest remitters globally, and remitted $12.64 billion to their home country in 2014.

India is also the third largest source of tourists travelling to the UAE.

Terrorism is causing increasing worry in the UAE, which last week announced the trial of 41 people for allegedly seeking to overthrow the government to set up an Islamic State group-style caliphate.

The UAE has not witnessed the kind of Islamic State militancy that has hit other Arab states.

In July, the UAE announced the institution of an armed forces commission to supply financial and military aid to Arab allies for counterterrorism efforts.

The UAE is part of the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the IS in Syria since September last year.

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