India, UAE sign 7 agreements to step up bilateral cooperation

Expanding economic engagement, particularly in oil and renewable energy sector and increasing UAE's investment in India, was a major focus area at the deliberations.

India, UAE sign 7 agreements to step up bilateral cooperation

New Delhi: Stepping up their cooperation, India and the UAE Thursday night signed a wide-ranging set of seven agreements including on cyber security, infrastructure investment and insurance after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

At their restricted as well as delegation-level talks here, the two leaders deliberated extensively on combating threat of terrorism including from ISIS, and explored ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism, maritime security and defence.

The pact on cyber space will provide for greater synergy between security agencies of the two countries to combat efforts to radicalise youths through online platforms besides checking activities of terror groups.

Modi had visited UAE in August last year during which it was decided to elevate the relationship to "comprehensive strategic partnership", providing for greater cooperation in strategic areas including defence and security.

Expanding economic engagement, particularly in oil and renewable energy sector and increasing UAE's investment in India, was a major focus area at the deliberations.

UAE's national oil company Adnoc has already agreed to store crude oil in India's maiden strategic storage and give two-third of the oil to it for free. India is building underground storages at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Mangalore and Padur in Karnataka to store about 5.33 million tonnes of crude oil.

Another pact was signed for creating a framework for facilitating participation of UAE's institutional investors in India's infrastructure sector while a separate agreement provides for cooperation in the insurance sector.

A total of seven pacts were signed between the two sides out of which four were inked in presence of Modi and Al Nahyan. Another pact between Dubai Economic Council and Export Import Bank of India will be signed in Mumbai tomorrow.

UAE has a sovereign wealth fund of around USD 800 billion and India hopes to attract a sizable investment from it in several key sectors.

The MoUs signed will also provide for cooperation in areas of skill development, space and cultural exchanges.

Modi held talks with the Crown Prince for a restricted meeting at his residence before delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House later in the evening. They continued their discussions over dinner as well.

Both the leaders deliberated on range of key issues including threat of ISIS, radicalism and the Mideast situation.

"Productive interaction with HH Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Avenues of India-UAE cooperation are immense," Modi tweeted.

The Crown Prince also met President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari. The President also hosted a lunch for the visiting leader. 

Seeking to explore new avenues to raise the trade between

the two countries to USD 100 billion, Gargash said the target is "doable", but areas like IT, solar energy and sustainable energy must be looked at.

"The target could be reached if both worked together. You cannot keep squeezing the same orange. You have to create new areas of cooperation. If we look at IT, solar or sustainable energy, this is something (to focus on)... You need to add new revenue streams. It's doable," he said.

Talks are on for the trade pact between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and India and the UAE has been talking to its Arab partners about it, he said.

"India is thinking strategically. We want to shift gears in the relationship with India," he said, referring to Modi's visit to Abu Dhabi. It was an opportunity which was "grabbed" by the UAE, he added.

Noting that the issue of terrorism and extremism was of major concern to both nations, Gargash said the UAE has "zero tolerance" to these and the fight against terrorism is a "marathon and not a sprint".

About Syria, he said that apart from air attacks, the campaign also needs the presence of ground troops, especially special forces.

"We have not asked India for troops (to join the fight against ISIS)," he said, adding that the UAE was aware of India's security priorities which revolve around the Indian Ocean and the sub-continent.

"The talks on defence cooperation are on and discussion is moving very well. A lot of things are in the pipeline. If we are able to achieve 30, 40 or even 50 per cent of what was discussed during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Abu Dhabi, it will be a lot," Gargash said.

He added that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will visit Mumbai tomorrow as it is not only the financial capital of India, but also a "major trade window" for Abu Dhabi.

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