On the eve of his visit to Palestine, the UAE and Oman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that the Gulf and West Asian region was a key priority in India’s external engagement and his trip was aimed at strengthening ties with the region. Modi will be on the three-nation tour from February 9-12. He said it would be his fifth visit to the Gulf and the West Asian region since 2015.
“This region is a key priority in our external engagement. We enjoy vibrant multi-dimensional ties with the countries here,” he said. “I look forward to strengthening India’s growing and important ties with West Asia and the Gulf region through the visit,” Modi said in a Facebook post. Noting that this would be the first-ever prime ministerial visit to Palestine from India, Modi said he was looking forward to his discussions with President Mahmoud Abbas and reaffirming India’s support for the Palestinian people and the development of Palestine.
Modi said his visit will begin from Palestine on February 10 after transiting through Jordan. “I am grateful to His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan for facilitating the transit. I look forward to meeting him in Amman on February 9,” he wrote. Modi said he will visit the UAE from February 10-11. Describing the Gulf country as a “valued strategic partner”, Modi said that India has fast-tracked cooperation with the UAE in all major spheres, including economy, energy, high technology and security.
“I will be discussing our progress in these areas and more in my meetings with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi,” Modi said in his post. He said he will also be addressing the 6th edition of the World Government Summit in Dubai, where India is the guest country.
During the visit, Modi said he will engage with leading UAE and Arab CEOs in Dubai on the vast economic opportunities in India and what more can be done to bolster business collaboration. Noting that Oman was a close maritime neighbour with whom India enjoys excellent relations, Modi said in the last leg of his trip from February 11-12, he will visit the country for the first time as prime minister and will hold talks with the Sultan of Oman and other key leaders.
“I shall also interact with leading businesspersons of Oman on developing stronger economic and business links with India,” the prime minister said. India and Oman have thriving links rooted in centuries old people-to-people exchanges, Modi said. The prime minister said that on the evening of February 11, he will meet the Sultan of Oman. Modi said he will also meet Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said and Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs Sayyid Asa’ad bin Tariq Al Said, during his visit.
“We will review bilateral cooperation and steps to further enhance our traditionally strong links,” Modi said. The prime minister said that on the final day of his visit on February 12, he would interact with leading businesspeople of Oman on developing stronger economic and business links with India. “In both Oman and the UAE, I will have the opportunity to meet the large Indian diasporas that have made those countries their home,” Modi said.
More than 9 million Indians work and live in the Gulf region, of which about one third live in the UAE alone. In Oman, they constitute the largest expatriate community, he noted. “The Indian diaspora is a bridge of friendship between India and the Gulf states. They are also active participants in the prosperity and progress of their host countries,” he said.
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