In a departure from protocol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi received Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the airport as he arrived in New Delhi for a three-day state visit. Hours after his arrival, Al Nahyan expressed his keenness to the strengthen strategic relationship between the two countries.
“India’s political and economic weight allows it to play a vital role towards regional and international security and stability. Bilateral relations between the UAE and India are strong and we are keen on strengthening our strategic partnership,” a statement released by the UAE embassy quoted him as saying.
The Crown Prince, who is an influential leader in the UAE and is also the country’s Deputy Supreme Commander of the armed forces, had received PM Modi at the Abu Dhabi airport, along with his five brothers, during the PM’s visit last August.
“The PM made a reciprocal gesture,” said an official.
In his tweets welcoming Al Nahyan, the PM wrote: “This is Sheikh Mohammed’s 1st state visit to India & am glad he is visiting with his family…His visit will add new vigour and momentum to comprehensive strategic partnership between India & UAE.”
Hours before the Crown Prince’s arrival, India also announced its willingness to extend help to the UAE to achieve its Mars Mission in 2025.
Al Nahyan is accompanied by three of his brothers, one of whom is the Interior Minister. The delegation also includes several top ministers and over 100 business tycoons, along with CEOs of top companies. President Pranab Mukherjee will host a private lunch for Al Nahyan on Thursday. Ministry of External Affairs’ Secretary (East), Anil Wadhwa, said he does not recall such a gesture by the President in recent times. The Crown Prince will also have a working dinner with Modi on Thursday, besides having a “private meeting” in the morning.
During the dialogue, the two sides are expected to touch upon sectors from security to space, defence to nuclear energy. Over a dozen pacts are also expected to be signed. Wadhwa said that strengthening existing security cooperation will be a key focus area in view of rising threat of IS. UAE has deported about a dozen Indians with suspected links to the terror group.
Officials said that joint production of defence equipment is another focus area, and under this initiative, UAE may make investments for manufacturing in India. The Crown Prince will also be travelling to Mumbai where he will meet top business leaders. India is keen to tap investments of nearly $75 billion from the UAE.