India, UAE likely to sign defence production and nuclear deals
| Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 20:38
New Delhi: A slew of agreements, including on defence equipment manufacturing and civil nuclear cooperation, are likely to be signed between India and the UAE after Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrives here later on Wednesday on a three-day visit.
After the India-UAE relationship was elevated to comprehensive strategic partnership during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UAE in August last year, the first by an Indian prime minister in 34 years, there is focus on new areas of cooperation like defence production in India, security, counter-terrorism, in nuclear and space sector, in energy sector, according to Anil Wadhwa, secretary (east) in the external affairs ministry.
“A number of new agreements and MoUs (memorandums of understanding) are proposed to be signed during the visit of the crown prince to expand the areas of our cooperation,” Wadhwa said during a media briefing here on Wednesday.
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“This list is still being updated. I cannot give the number right now but as we speak the negotiations are still going on."
The welfare of the expatriate Indians in the United Arab Emirates, numbering around 2.6 million, is also likely to come up for discussion, he said.
After Saudi Arabia, the UAE hosts the highest number of Indians in the Gulf, 60 percent of whom are blue collar workers.
This is the second highest level visit to India from the Gulf region after the visit of the emir of Qatar in March 2015.
The UAE is the third largest trading partner of India after the US and China. It is also the sixth largest source of India's crude oil imports.
This is the third visit to India by Sheikh Mohamed and the first in his capacity as crown prince. He is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces.
After his arrival here on Wednesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will call on him.
On Thursday, he will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan following which he will lay a wreath at Rajghat. He will have a tete-a-tete with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after which President Pranab Mukherjee will host him for a private lunch.
Bilateral discussions will be held here on Thursday evening and then the agreements will be signed.
On Friday, Sheikh Mohamed will leave for Mumbai where he will visit the Bombay Stock Exchange and meet Indian business leaders.