Modi reaches out to Islamic countries

February 19, 2018 India , Middle East , News , OPINION/NEWS

Reuters photo



Ratnesh Dwivedi



At the invitation of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India paid a State visit to the UAE from 10-11 February, 2018.  The visit further enriched the rapport established at the highest political levels between India and the UAE and follows Prime Minister Modi’s earlier visit to the UAE during August 2015 and the visits of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to India during February 2016 and then during January 2017 as the honoured Chief Guest at India’s 68th Republic Day celebrations.


On arrival in Abu Dhabi on 10 February, Prime Minister Modi was accorded a ceremonial reception.  Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan hosted a banquet dinner in honour of the Prime Minister Modi which was preceded by delegation-level official discussions. Prime Minister Modi also met with Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in Dubai on 11 February.


Apart from his official engagements in Abu Dhabi, Prime Minister Modi delivered his key note address on the theme- “Technology for Development”- at the sixth World Government Summit in Dubai, where India was invited as the Guest of Honour. On the side-lines of the World Government Summit, Prime Minister Modi met with a select group of senior GCC CEOs and Business Leaders.


This visit allowed leadership of the two countries to take regular stock of the bilateral ties and to review the progress made in implementing the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement signed during the last visit of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed to India in January 2017. Both sides also welcomed the signing of various agreements and MoUs during the visit.



A Strategic Partnership for the Future


During their official discussions, Prime Minister Modi and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan reaffirmed their abiding commitment to further consolidating the comprehensive strategic partnership and expressed satisfaction at the meticulous follow up on the decisions taken during their previous meetings to achieve the set targets. Both leaders noted the robust and forward-looking bilateral engagement in the past two years across a whole range of spheres, including political, economic, trade and investment, energy, education, culture, defence and security, etc.


Both leaders noted that the frequent high-level visits between the two countries have facilitated expeditious and regular implementation of a result-oriented and mutually beneficial comprehensive strategic partnership.


The two leaders noted that the institutional mechanism of UAE-India Strategic Dialogue established under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement has proven to be a useful mechanism to monitor the progress in the agreed areas of engagement and to steer in new promising directions. In this context, they welcomed the fruitful outcome of the second ministerial-level India-UAE Strategic Dialogue held in Abu Dhabi in October, 2017.


In order to further strengthen the agreed institutional cooperation and understanding between the two countries, the two sides renewed their pledge to deepen cooperation between India’s Ministry of External Affairs and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.



Combating Extremism and Countering Terrorism


Recognizing that both India and the UAE are multicultural and pluralistic societies, the two leaders reiterated their common resolve in promoting the values of tolerance, peace, inclusiveness and in countering extremist ideologies. The two leaders recognised the critical role interfaith dialogue could play in achieving this worthy aim.


Both sides underlined that as diverse societies, India and UAE exemplify as credible models against the tendencies of extremism and radicalism. While appreciating the existing cooperation in this area, including through exchange of visits and best practices, both sides resolved to deepen cooperation on combating extremism and further strengthen their efforts in countering terrorism.


The two leaders agreed that extremism and terrorism cannot be defeated by use of force only, and acknowledged the need for a holistic approach, which includes disrupting the use of web and social media for promotion of extremist and violent ideologies; preventing the use of religious centres to radicalize youth and recruit terrorist cadres; and promoting tolerance. In this context, the leaders welcomed the contributions of initiatives such as the UAE-based Sawab and Hedayah centers to countering extremist ideologies and enhancing on-going international counter extremism cooperation.


The two leaders expressed strong condemnation of extremism and terrorism in all forms and manifestations, irrespective of who the perpetrators are and of their motivations. They reiterated their condemnation for efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries, or to use terrorism as instrument of state policy.


They further deplored efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and pointed out the responsibility of all states to control the activities of the so-called ‘non-state actors’, and to cut all support to terrorists operating and perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states. The two leaders agreed that resolute and credible steps must be taken to eliminate safe havens and sanctuaries that provide shelter to terrorists and their activities.


The two leaders noted the importance of efforts to disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks, their financing and movement, in accordance with the relevant principles and objectives of the UN Charter and international laws. The two sides deplored the adoption of double standards in addressing the menace of international terrorism and agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism both at the bilateral level and within the multilateral system. The two sides resolved to continue working together towards the adoption of India’s proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations.



Security, Defence and Space cooperation


The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the ongoing bilateral cooperation in the identified areas of security, defence and space. They committed to augment this cooperation further to promote regional security, peace and prosperity and agreed to further deepen collaborations on maritime security, including joint anti-piracy, training and exercises, cyber space and outer space, etc.


The two leaders noted with satisfaction the robust cooperation between the security agencies of the two countries. They also expressed satisfaction at the on-going cooperation under the institutional mechanism of the security dialogue established at the level of the respective National Security Adviser and National Security Council aimed at enhancing cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, intelligence-sharing and capacity-building.


The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress made in the area of security cooperation and directed their respective officials to hold the first meeting of the Joint Task Force on prevention and combating human trafficking during 2018. The two sides welcomed the finalisation of an MOU on Cooperation in the Exchange of Financial Intelligence related to Money Laundering, Associated Predicate Offences and Terrorist Financing, which could be signed at the earliest. They agreed to further deepen cooperation in combating transnational crimes and welcomed the proposal to establish institutional mechanism for cooperation to combat drug-trafficking.


Reaffirming their commitment to combating cyber crime, the two sides noted that the MOU signed in February 2016 has established an institutional mechanism for undertaking joint research activities. For effective implementation of the MOU, they directed that efforts to establish joint Research and Development Centres of Excellence be expedited.


The two leaders acknowledged the regular follow up of the provisions of the agreement on Defence Cooperation renewed in 2014 which provides a general framework for strengthening bilateral defence ties. The two sides noted the growing defence cooperation, including through regular high-level visits, training programmes, joint exercises, participation in defence exhibitions and ship visits/port calls, etc.


It was noted with satisfaction that the Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) formed under the existing Defence Cooperation Agreement has been meeting regularly.   The two leaders welcomed the decision taken during the latest round of JDCC held in New Delhi in December 2017 to conduct the first bilateral Naval Exercise during 2018. They also noted the holding of the sixth round of Naval Staff Talks in New Delhi during September, 2017.


The two sides renewed their commitment to work closely to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of both countries.


The UAE side renewed its interest in the coastal surveillance systems and patrol vessels developed by India. The two leaders noted with satisfaction the agreement for supply of Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels by India to UAE and the successful testing for Factory Acceptance Trials in Sharjah during March 2017.


Acknowledging India’s highly successful and cost-effective space programme, the UAE side evinced interest in deepening cooperation with India in space exploration under the existing MOU on Space cooperation signed during February 2016. In this context, both sides welcomed the launch of UAE Nano satellite Nayif-1 by Indian Space Research Organisation in February, 2017. The UAE side welcomed the joining of the former ISRO Chairman on the Advisory Board of the UAE Space Agency.


The leaders expressed satisfaction at the holding of the first Joint Working Group Meeting in December 2017 under the existing MOU on space cooperation. They welcomed proposed cooperation in the identified areas of remote sensing, space science, satellite navigation, launching services, academic cooperation and industry interactions.



Trade, Investment and Civil Aviation cooperation


Both leaders noted the excellent trade and economic ties between the two countries, as each other’s major trading partners and expressed satisfaction at the current level of bilateral trade, which amounted to about USD 53 billion in 2016-17. The two sides agreed to further strengthen these ties, particularly through diversifying non-oil trade.


With an aim to devise a long-term strategy on trade enhancement, the two leaders decided to examine various tariff and non-tariff barriers, and agreed to focus on encouraging trade in identified commodities and to expand access of goods and services in both markets. They acknowledged the positive effect presence of a number of Indian and UAE companies in each other’s market has in bilateral trade promotion efforts. They welcomed the decision to open of an office of Confederation of Indian Industry in Dubai and of the Dubai Chambers of Commerce in Mumbai to support businesses at both ends.


The two sides viewed the MoU between Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange concluded during this visit, as another constructive mechanism for furthering economic and commercial ties.


Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomed India’s decision to participate in Dubai Expo 2020. Prime Minister Modi reiterated the interest of Indian companies to be a partner in the infrastructure projects being undertaken by the UAE in preparation for the Dubai Expo as well as in UAE’s development plans.


Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan valued the continued efforts by India to enhance economic growth, and the recent economic reforms undertaken by the Indian Government, which would facilitate the ease of doing business and promote market integration. Both sides noted the improvement in the ease of doing business in India and the UAE as per the World Bank’s latest global rankings.


Both leaders reviewed the progress in realizing the USD 75 billion target for UAE investments in India committed towards infrastructure development. Prime Minister Modi welcomed ADIA’s participation in India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund as an anchor investor and welcomed DP World’s agreement with NIIF to create a joint investment platform for ports,terminals,transportation and logistics businesses in India. He also welcomed UAE’s continued interest in investing in infrastructure development in India, especially in priority areas such as renewable energy, power generation and transmission, defence production, real estate, industrial corridors and parks, railways, roads, ports, shipping, logistics and food processing among others. Similarly, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomed interest from Indian IT and technology companies in investing in the UAE, and encouraged them to use the UAE as a platform for expanding their businesses in the region. Both leaders welcomed the signing of an MOU for strengthening of technical cooperation in the Railways sector during the visit.


The two leaders complimented the work of the ministerial-level UAE-India High Level Task Force on Investments in promoting bilateral investment ties between the two countries. They noted the positive outcome of its fifth meeting held in January 2018 in Abu Dhabi, and urged the Task Force to explore investment opportunities in both countries, including through India’s flagship initiatives such as “Make in India”, “Digital India”, “Skill India”, “Smart India”, “Clean India,” and “Start–Up India”. Prime Minister Modi highlighted the strong potential of these initiatives to accelerate the Indian economy’s robust and sustained growth.


The two leaders directed the concerned authorities to expeditiously conclude the ongoing negotiations on the new Bilateral Investment Treaty in order to provide necessary legal framework for investment promotion.


The two leaders underlined that aviation links between India and the UAE are indicative of vibrant people to people exchanges. Recognizing the need to further expand and develop cooperation in the civil aviation sector, the two sides agreed to convene consultations between their respective civil aviation authorities at the earliest opportunity to discuss key areas of mutual interest.



Energy and Climate Change


The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the cooperation in energy sector, noting that the UAE is one of the leading suppliers of crude oil to India. Prime Minister Modi thanked the UAE for being a reliable partner in India’s energy security.


Both leaders reiterated their common desire to transform the buyer-seller relationship in the energy-sector to one of deeper partnership with focus on investment and joint ventures in petrochemical complexes, and cooperation in joint exploration in India, UAE and in third countries. Prime Minister Modi invited ADNOC and Mubadala to invest in downstream projects in India’s hydrocarbon sector also.


Both sides reviewed the progress being made in early implementation of the agreement on Oil Storage and Management between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited signed in January 2017 and underscored that crude oil supply from UAE for the Mangalore cavern would be a significant transformational step in building a strategic partnership in the energy sector.


PM Modi welcomed the decision to award a major oil concession to ONGC-led consortium from India in the ADMA-OPCO field in Lower Zakum.  Both sides described this as another example of the emerging strategic engagement in the energy sector.


Prime Minister Modi thanked the UAE leadership for supporting his initiative on the International Solar Alliance (ISA). Both sides welcomed the signing and ratification of the Framework ISA Agreement by UAE and expressed their commitment for promoting clean and renewable energy by mobilizing investments for broad-based deployment of affordable solar energy applications. Both sides further agreed to continue extending support to the International Renewable Energy Agency.


The two sides agreed to further enhance their cooperation in areas of green energy and Climate Change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  They took note of the strides made by the two countries in achieving the ambitious renewable energy targets and welcomed Masdar’s intention to invest in India’s solar energy projects.



People and Skill Development


Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan conveyed appreciation for the positive contribution made by the Indian community in the UAE in the development of their host country. Prime Minister Modi thanked the UAE leadership for ensuring continued welfare and well-being of the Indian community and for the continuing labour reforms by the UAE Government.


Both leaders expressed satisfaction at the signing of an MoU on Manpower during the visit. They noted that the MoU would streamline the process of manpower sourcing, benefit Indian workers and UAE employers alike, and foster the exchange of information between the two countries.


The two leaders were convinced that people-to-people engagement will further enhance the strong bonds between the two nations, and as such, noted with satisfaction the visa exemption agreement signed in 2017, which allows mutual visa-free access for holders of diplomatic and official passports from both countries.


The two sides agreed to further intensify cooperation in skill development and noted the successful hosting of the 44th World Skills Competition in Abu Dhabi in October 2017 with significant participation from India.


Prime Minister thanked Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for allotting land and for facilitating the construction of a temple in implementation of the decision conveyed by the UAE Government in August 2015 to address the request of Indian community in UAE. He noted that the temple would be an important symbol of UAE’s firm commitment to the principles of tolerance and to building a pluralistic society where diverse communities enjoy the freedom to practice their religion, language and culture.



Culture, Education and Tourism


The two sides welcomed participation of India as the “Guest of Honour Country” at the prestigious Abu Dhabi Music and Art Foundation Festival in March 2018 and Sharjah’s participation as the Guest of Honour at the New Delhi World Book Fair 2019. The leaders also looked forward to intensifying exchanges between scholars, academics and cultural delegations.


Prime Minister Modi congratulated the leadership of UAE on opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum. Both sides agreed to enhance collaboration between the National Museum of India and Louvre Abu Dhabi.


Recalling the legacy and great contribution in the nation building by UAE’s Founder President, late H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Prime Minister Modi noted the cultural events planned during 2018 to mark it as the “Year of Zayed”.


Both sides agreed to enhance consultations on mutual recognition of educational degrees. They agreed to deepen cooperation especially in areas of smart classroom and digital education.


The two leaders underlined the growing synergies in cruise tourism and noted the need for an institutional arrangement to promote Cruise Tourism between the two countries.



International and Regional cooperation


Appreciating the importance of cooperation in responding to global challenges, the two sides were pleased to note the growing convergence on regional and global issues and agreed to enhance India-UAE cooperation in multilateral fora. Both leaders noted the common desire to strengthen cooperation in the framework of the Indian Ocean Rim Association and other important regional bodies.


The two sides reiterated their common desire to work together in the spirit of South-South cooperation in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly through capacity-building, grants and loans, collaboration in trade and technology, and joint projects aimed at supporting the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. The UAE side valued India’s steadfast contribution to peace and development in Africa, including its participation in UN Peacekeeping Missions. Prime Minister Modi in turn, noted the UAE’s contribution to the G5 Sahel Force, which will be important to counter terrorism in the region.


The two leaders also discussed the importance of sharing each other’s experience in the field of development and aid. In line with this, they agreed to initiate joint development projects for third countries, including exploring joint projects in Afghanistan in line with the need of the people of Afghanistan.





Prime Minister Modi thanked Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation and invited him to visit India at mutually convenient time. The two leaders affirmed their vision of a forward-looking comprehensive strategic partnership for prosperity, growth and security of the two countries.





Ratnesh Dwivedi

Ratnesh Dwivedi is a seasoned Academician, Author, Journalist, NASA Certified Educator and Consultant with 15 plus years in teaching and corporate. He has seen the changing face of global politics and has written extensively on International Affairs.

He serves on board of a dozen global firms ranging from Mining, Oil & Gas, Electricity, Energy, Cyber Security, Intelligence, Defence and Counter Terrorism having the finest people from the corporate world and Goverment onboard.

He holds memberships with global organizations such as ECREA-Brussels, Mission Essential-Virginia, Global Ethics Network-Washington, American Astronomical Society-Washington, Internet Society-Virginia, CSIS-PONI-Washington, RTDNA-Washington, NSTA-Virginia, EIN News Desk, Bush Presidential Center, Texas, etc.

He has authored five books. The Story of an Intern is a Reportage, The Cosmic Mask is a Space Fiction, Third and fourth are awarded academic books. His fifth book, US Intelligence and Cost of War talks about USA Military engagements in the Middle East.

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