Narendra Modi visits the UAE, becomes first Prime Minister to visit in 34 years
PM Modi's visit marks the beginning of a new and comprehensive strategic partnership between India and UAE
India and the UAE step up strategic and economic cooperation
India, the UAE agree to counter extremism and terrorism in the entire region collectively
India, the UAE strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug trafficking
India-UAE promote cooperation in cyber security, including prevention on use of cyber for terrorism, radicalization & disturbing social harmony
India and UAE cooperate to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region

India and the UAE step up cooperation in wide range of sectors during PM Modi's historic visit, sign key agreements.

  1. Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi visited the United Arab Emirates from 16-17 August 2015 at the invitation of His Highness Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed AI Nahyan.

  2. The visit of an Indian Prime Minister to UAE after 34 years marks the beginning of a new and comprehensive strategic partnership between India and UAE in a world of multiple transitions and changing opportunities and challenges.

  3. In recent decades, UAE's economic progress has been one of the global success stories, transforming the nation into a regional leader and a thriving international centre that attracts people and business from across the world. India has emerged as one of the major world powers, contributing to the advancement of global peace and stability. India's rapid growth and modernization, along with its talented human resources and large markets, make it one of the anchors of the global economy. The dynamism of the two countries have translated into a rapidly expanding economic partnership, making India UAE's second largest trading partner; and UAE not only India's third largest trading partner, but also India's gateway to the region and beyond.

  4. India and UAE share centuries-old ties of commerce, culture and kinship. Today, the Indian community of over 2.5 million is a major part of UAE's vibrant society and its economic success. It also makes a significant economic contribution to India and constitutes an indelible human bond of friendship between the two nations.

  5. An extensive framework of agreements, including economic, defence, security, law enforcement, culture, consular and people-to-people contacts constitute solid bedrock for elevating bilateral cooperation across the full spectrum of our relationship.

  6. Today, as India accelerates economic reforms and improves its investment and business environment, and UAE becomes an increasingly advanced and diversified economy, the two countries have the potential to build a transformative economic partnership, not only for sustained prosperity of their two countries, but to also advance progress in the region and help realise the vision of an Asian Century.

  7. Yet, their common vision of progress and prosperity faces challenges from many shared threats to peace, stability and security in the region. A shared endeavour to address these challenges, based on common ideals and convergent interests, is vital for the future of the two countries and their region.

  8. UAE is at the heart of the Gulf and West Asia region and its major economic hub. India, with seven million citizens in the Gulf, also has major energy, trade and investment interests in the region. The two nations also share a commitment to openness, peaceful coexistence and social harmony that are based on their cultural traditions, spiritual values and shared heritage. UAE is a shining example of a multi-cultural society. India is a nation of unparalleled diversity, religious pluralism and a composite culture.

  9. The two nations reject extremism and any link between religion and terrorism. They condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries. They also deplore efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and disputes, including in West and South Asia, and use terrorism to pursue their aims.

  10. Proximity, history, cultural affinity, strong links between people, natural synergies, shared aspirations and common challenges create boundless potential for a natural strategic partnership between India and UAE. Yet, in the past, relations between the two governments have not kept pace with the exponential growth in relations between their people or the promise of this partnership. However, the need for a close strategic partnership between UAE and India has never been stronger or more urgent, and its prospects more rewarding, than in these uncertain times.

  11. Today, in Abu Dhabi, His Highness Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed AI Nahyan and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi agreed to seize this historic moment of opportunity and shared responsibility to chart a new course in their partnership for the 21st century. The leaders agreed on the following:

    1. Elevate the India-UAE relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

    2. Coordinate efforts to counter radicalization and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred, perpetrating and justifying terrorism or pursuing political aims. The two sides will facilitate regular exchanges of religious scholars and intellectuals and organise conferences and seminars to promote the values of peace, tolerance, inclusiveness and welfare that is inherent in all religions.

    3. Denounce and oppose terrorism in all forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, calling on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they exist, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice.

    4. Enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, intelligence sharing and capacity building.

    5. Work together for the adoption of India’s proposed Comprehensive convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations.

    6. Work together to control, regulate and share information on flow of funds that could have a bearing on radicalization activities and cooperate in interdicting illegal flows and take action against concerned individuals and organizations.

    7. Strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug trafficking, other trans-national crimes, extradition arrangements, as well as police training.

    8. Promote cooperation in cyber security, including prevention on use of cyber for terrorism, radicalization and disturbing social harmony.

    9. Establish a dialogue between their National Security Advisors and National Security Councils. The National Security Advisors, together with other high level representatives for security from both nations, will meet every six months. The two sides will also establish points of contact between their security agencies to further improve operational cooperation.

    10. Cooperate to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of both countries.

    11. Promote collaboration and inter-operability for humanitarian assistance and evacuation in natural disasters and conflict situations.

    12. Strengthen defence relations, including through regular exercises and training of naval, air, land and Special Forces, and in coastal defence. India warmly welcomed UAE's decision to participate in International Fleet Review in India in February 2016.

    13. Cooperate in manufacture of defence equipment in India.

    14. Work together to promote peace, reconciliation, stability, inclusiveness and cooperation in the wider South Asia, Gulf and West Asia region.

    15. Support efforts for peaceful resolution of conflicts and promote adherence to the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the conduct of relations between nations and settlement of disputes.

    16. Call on all nations to fully respect and sincerely implement their commitments to resolve disputes bilaterally and peacefully, without resorting to violence and terrorism.

    17. Establish a Strategic Security Dialogue between the two governments.

    18. Recognising that India is emerging as the new frontier of investment opportunities, especially with the new initiatives by the Government to facilitate trade and investment, encourage the investment institutions of UAE to raise their investments in India, including through the establishment of UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the aim of reaching a target of USD 75 billion to support investment in India's plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks.

    19. Facilitate participation of Indian companies in infrastructure development in UAE.

    20. Promote strategic partnership in the energy sector, including through UAE's participation in India in the development of strategic petroleum reserves, upstream and downstream petroleum sectors, and collaboration in third countries.

    21. Further promote trade between the two countries, and use their respective locations and infrastructure for expanding trade in the region and beyond; and, with the target of increasing trade by 60% in the next five years.

    22. Tap India's expertise in Small and Medium Enterprises to create a vibrant industrial base in UAE, which could also be of benefit to Indian enterprises.

    23. Strengthen cooperation between UAE's increasingly sophisticated educational institutions and India's universities and higher research institutions. Promote scientific collaboration, including in the areas of renewable energy, sustainable development, arid agriculture, desert ecology, urban development and advanced healthcare.

    24. Promote cooperation in Space, including in joint development and launch of satellites, ground-based infrastructure and space application. Prime Minister Modi welcomed UAE's plan to set up the West Asia's first Space Research Centre at AI Ain and plans to launch a Mars Mission in 2021.

    25. Cooperate in peaceful uses of nuclear energy including in areas like safety, health, agriculture and science and technology.

    26. The 70th anniversary of the United Nations is an occasion to press for early reforms of the United Nations, and that the Inter-Governmental Negotiations on the reforms of the UN Security Council should be concluded expeditiously. Prime Minister thanked UAE for its support for India's candidature for permanent membership of a reformed United Nations Security Council.

    27. The finalization of the post-2015 Development Agenda with elimination of poverty by 2030 as its core objective was a welcome development.

    28. The International Conference on Climate Change in Paris in December 2015 should produce an effective agreement, which includes provision of means and technologies to developing countries to transition to clean energy.

    29. The overwhelming global response to the International Day of Yoga was a reflection of global community's ability to come together to seek a peaceful, more balanced, healthier and sustainable future for the world. Prime Minister thanked UAE for its strong support to the International Day of Yoga on June 21 this year.

    30. India and UAE were shining examples of open and multicultural societies, which should work together to promote these values for a peaceful and inclusive global community. India and UAE will also enhance cultural and sports exchanges in each other's countries.

    31. People-to-people were at the heart of India-UAE relations and both governments will continue to nurture these relations and ensure the welfare of their citizens, especially the workers, in each other's country, as also work together to prevent human trafficking.

  12. Prime Minister thanked His Highness the Crown Prince for his decision to allot land for construction of a temple in Abu Dhabi.

  13. His Highness the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister resolved to maintain regular summits, high level ministerial dialogue and meetings of bilateral mechanisms to realize their vision of a strong comprehensive strategic partnership. They are confident that it would play a defining role in securing a future of sustained prosperity for their people and shaping the course of their region, and also contribute to a peaceful, stable, sustainable and prosperous Asia and the world.
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Modi said since he adored the UAE leaders for their bold vision and ability to understand the forces shaping the modern world, he had no right to give them a "message".

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is arriving in Abu Dhabi today on his historic maiden visit to the UAE, said he is keen to foster a strategic partnership, particularly in the security, energy and investment sectors, with the fastest growing Arab economy and its visionary and pragmatic leadership.

In an interview with Khaleej Times at his high-security official residence at Race Course Road on Indian Independence Day, Modi described the UAE as a 'Mini-India' close to his heart where all languages and dialects of his nation are spoken by the 2.6 million Indian diaspora.

Waxing eloquent as he spoke about what the two nations with deep historical links could achieve together, the Indian leader said he wanted to see the UAE as India's foremost partner in trade and investment as well as in countering terrorism.

Modi was confident that with an overall economic reform programme in progress, Indians in the UAE will find their home country an attractive, stable and secure destination for investment and savings.

Marvelling at the UAE's spectacular achievements, he described it as a paradise built up in a desert with unmatched vision and remarkable skill. Following is the interview:

You are the first Indian prime minister in 34 years to visit a country that has 2.6 million Indian residents. Do you think India unintentionally neglected the UAE in the recent past?

It is an anomaly that an Indian prime minister is visiting the UAE after 34 years. We have deep historical links and unmatched level of familiarity with each other. We are located close to each other. Religion, culture and commerce provide enduring links between us. We are both multi-cultural and pluralist societies today. We are now among each other's top three trading partners. No country has better air connectivity with India than the UAE. The 2.6 million Indian nationals here form an indelible human bond between us. In recent decades, the vision of the UAE leadership has taken this nation to the global forefront. India has emerged as one of the major global powers and a new frontier of the global economy. We have a range of common security and strategic concerns in the region, including terrorism and extremism.

So India and UAE have everything to be a top priority for each other. This is the way I look at the UAE. The Gulf region is vital for India's economic, energy and security interests. I have begun my regional engagement with the UAE. This tells you the importance that I attach to the UAE. We have resolved to sustain regular high-level engagement and build a strong and comprehensive strategic partnership.

Indians in the UAE send home over $10 billion as remittances. What can you tell them to assure that India will remain a rewarding investment and savings destination?

We are proud of our Indian community which is not only contributing to the progress and development of the host country, but also participating in the economic development of India through their remittances. I have no doubt that with the overall economic reform programme in progress, they will find India an attractive, stable and secure destination for their investment and savings.

The Indians abroad are proud and excited about the changes taking place in India. I see a new level of confidence in them about India; and a new level of desire to participate in India's transformation. I not only seek to encourage them to be part of India's success, but am also taking steps, both general and specific to them, to facilitate their travel to and participation in India.

India has had very good relations with every country in the Middle East and the Gulf. At a time when so much tension is built up in the region, what role a common friend like India can play?

India is uniquely blessed to have good relations with all countries in the region. Therefore, we are saddened and worried to see violence and instability in the region. I have always believed that regional or bilateral problems are best solved by the countries involved. We have often seen the consequences of outside interference. India has always abided by the principle of non-interference in other countries and has consistently supported dialogue as a means to resolve all issues.

I strongly believe that the problems in this region can only be addressed by the collective efforts and constructive engagement of all countries. Regional peace and stability is in the interest of all. I always advocate this approach to every country in this region and others who have stakes here. When we have such serious problems of terrorism and extremism as we see in the region, it is incumbent upon all nations in the region to work together to address this common threat to regional stability, peace and prosperity.

How do you view the Iran deal, as far as Indian economic and geo-political interests are concerned?

As with other countries in the region, India has close civilisational relations with Iran, which spans centuries. We have strong economic and energy interests in Iran. Iran is also important for India's connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asia. We have always advocated a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue in a way that advances peace and stability in the region. We hope that the nuclear agreement will not be a cause of instability in the region, but will start a process of consultation and cooperation in the region that will enhance mutual trust and confidence, and lead to durable peace and stability in the region.

Where would you like India-UAE relations to be in the next five years?

As I said, I would like to see a truly comprehensive strategic partnership evolve between our two countries. I want to see the UAE as our foremost trade and investment partner. We want to work together in advanced areas of science and technology. We would build regular and effective cooperation in a full range of security challenges. Our armed forces would engage with each other more. We will work together more closely in international forums and in addressing regional challenges. We will nurture our cultural and educational links. There are no limits to our relationship. In short, in every walk of life, we should turn to each other as a matter of habit.

What are your thoughts on this historic trip?

I have been hearing about the progress made by Dubai for years. However, personally, I have never had the opportunity to visit the country. Although as prime minister, I am going to the UAE after 34 years, but personally this would be my first visit to the country. I have always thought, how this paradise could come up in a desert? What vision! What remarkable skill!

Secondly, after becoming prime minister, I have observed that globally, between countries, it is governments which first forge close relationships, and development of people-to-people contacts follows. However, in the case of the UAE, while India has close people-to-people contacts, there was a certain distance between the governments. I think this was a mismatch. From a diplomatic viewpoint, this just does not seem right. This must change. I am confident that my visit will be successful, and I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai for extending this kind invitation to me.

What is the key message you would like to give to the UAE leadership?

I certainly have no right to give a "message" to the Government of the UAE. First of all, this is the first visit by an Indian prime minister after 34 years. Secondly, I have never met the leadership of the UAE, yet have heard wonderful things about their vision, their capability and their ability to understand the forces shaping the modern world. I certainly have no right to give them any kind of message. But yes, I do wish for our friendship to deepen, and our relationship to broaden, and for India-UAE relations to evolve into a strategic partnership.

As far as the Indian community is concerned, the languages that are spoken in India, are all spoken in the UAE! In a manner of speaking, the UAE is a "Mini India". The Indian community has been embraced with such warmth in the UAE. The way the two communities work together represents a special bond. There are tens of thousands of such people there, who are connected with India every moment. I am sure that the world shall take note of the Indian community's contribution. This workforce has been there for the last 30-40 years. They have set an example for how an expatriate community can become a part of their resident country's development journey.

You have been to many countries since you became prime minister and met many Indian expatriate communities. Could you describe what is special about the Indian community in the UAE, and why you have chosen this time to come to the Gulf?

The entire world accepts that the 21st century will be Asia's. And the UAE has a special place in Asia. India is a big country in terms of numbers. If Asia is to rise, then India has the responsibility to bring all such powers in Asia together, and to work with them to make the Asian century a reality.

Secondly, earlier, the process of development was a challenge. Today, the form of development is a challenge in itself. Moreover, terrorism poses a grave danger to humanity. Therefore, all those countries who believe in humanity, must stand together without delay. This is extremely necessary to challenge the forces of terrorism.

As far as the timing of my visit is concerned, this is a question that would be asked of me irrespective of whenever I paid a visit. I adjust my schedule depending on the time available. Further, in the UAE, there is the added advantage that one can work on Saturdays and Sundays there.

Khaleej Times Associate Business Editor Issac John presenting a memento to Indian PM Narendra Modi.