New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday described the UAE as an important partner in India’s growth story after the two countries signed 14 agreements, including one that elevates the bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
In a joint address to the media with visiting Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan following delegation-level talks, Modi said the United Arab Emirates was one of India’s “most valued partners and a close friend in an important region of the world”.
“We regard the UAE as an important partner in India’s growth story,” Modi said. “I particularly welcome the UAE’s interest in investing in India’s infrastructure sector.”
Stating that work was on to connect the institutional investors of the UAE with India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, he said the Gulf nation “can benefit by linking with our growth in manufacturing and services”.
“We can jointly tap abundant opportunities in our initiatives aimed at building digital economy, human capital and smart urbanization in India.
“We are also encouraging and facilitating business and industry of both countries to increase the quality and quantum bilateral trade.”
Stating that the energy partnership was “an important bridge in our linkages”, Modi said he and Sheikh Mohamed “discussed ways to transform our energy ties in a strategic direction through specific projects and proposals.
“In this regard, long-term supply contracts and establishment of joint ventures in the energy sector can be beneficial avenues,” he said.
The UAE contributes significantly to India’s energy security and was the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to India in 2015-16.
Among the agreements signed on Wednesday was one on oil storage and management at a strategic facility in India.
Modi said security and defence cooperation was another area that “have added growing new dimensions to our relationship”.
“We have agreed to expand our useful cooperation in the field of defence to new areas including in the maritime domain.
“The MoU (memorandum of understanding) on defence cooperation, signed earlier today, will help steer our defence engagements in the right direction.”
The MoU aims to establish cooperation in the identified fields of defence manufacturing and technology, including through studies, research, development, innovation and cooperation between public and private sector institutions of the two countries.
Modi also called for growing engagement between the two countries to counter violence and extremism.
Stating that closer ties were of importance, he said: “They are also of significance to the entire neighbourhood. Our convergence can help stabilise the region. And, our economic partnership can be a source of regional and global prosperity.”
Modi thanked the Crown Prince for allotting land for a temple in the UAE, which is home to around 2.6 million expatriate Indians.
Sheikh Mohamed, who arrived here on Tuesday on a three-day visit to India, will be the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations on Thursday.
Earlier, the visiting dignitary was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.