UAE, India seek new horizons

Indian President Pratibha Patil begins a state visit to UAE, which draws great importance as it is part of the efforts to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.

By Issac John (kt Exclusive)

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Published: Sun 21 Nov 2010, 8:24 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:05 PM

DUBAI - Indian President Pratibha Patil, who embarks on her first tour of the Gulf region today with a five-day state visit to the UAE, hoped that her dialogue with the UAE leadership and business communities would provide a new momentum to the two countries’ historic relations.

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Commenting on the choice of making the UAE her only stop on her Gulf visit, she told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview at the Presidential Palace: “The UAE is part of our extended neighbourhood and we share a historic partnership. In the contemporary times, we have sustained and nurtured these links with exchange of high-level visits at political level. I expect these to continue in the future.”

The Indian President, who is due in Abu Dhabi tonight at the invitation of the UAE President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, reiterated the historical ties between the two nations and said her discussions with the UAE leadership would focus on how to take the partnership “forward in a fast changing world and to exchange views on major regional and global issues where we share common perceptions”.

Shaikh Khalifa has always expressed his keenness to promote bilateral cooperation with India through mutual understanding and convergence in the views of both countries over issues of common concern.

President Patil placed on record her priorities when she said: “India is committed to pursuing a common strategic vision for promoting regional peace and security and for the enhancement of our relations in the political, economic, security and cultural fields.”

She made a very telling and valid point when asked about the increase in cooperation on matters that concerned security and the sharing of intelligence.

“The relevant security agencies of the UAE and India are cooperating with each other on terrorism and other security issues. Terrorism is a common challenge that many countries in the region are confronted with. Terrorism does not respect borders and this menace has to be tackled through cooperation at international level.”

The President explained that the two countries had already signed agreements in the field of Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters and on Extradition Treaty. “We have also reached agreement on security cooperation. This security cooperation agreement is due to be signed during the proposed visit of the UAE Minister for Interior to India in the coming months,” she said.

President Patil said that energy needs for India were not her only concern and that two nations were keen to strengthen ties across the board. She categorically stated that while UAE would continue to be important for India’s energy security, the relations have a broader strategic dimension in political, trade, economic and cultural fields. “We have mature and multi-dimensional relations.”

Right through her conversation, the President repeated the sentiment of goodwill and warmth and said she was keenly looking forward to meeting President Shaikh Khalifa and His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as well as other leaders.

President Patil, who will be accompanied by a large delegation comprising business leaders, high-ranking officials and media, said she was proud of the fact that the Indian community has made valuable contribution to the socio-economic development of the UAE. “There are over 5.5 million Indian workers in the Gulf, of which about 1.75 million live and work in UAE alone. We are very grateful to the UAE Government for the warm welcome they have received in the country.”

“The presence of a large Indian community has further cemented our fraternal relationship dating back to many millennia,” she added. She said the welfare of the overseas Indian community remains a high priority for her government.

During the nine-day tour, Patil will visit Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah in the UAE and will later go to Damascus in the first visit by an Indian president to Syria.

The highlight of the UAE visit will be the launch of an Indian Workers Resource Centre designed to provide a 24-hour helpline and counselling services to workers from the country who are in distress.

The 24-hour helpline is being started by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to deal with problems faced by Indian workers.

On India’s increasing global clout, Patil said her country, which is seeking a 10-fold increase in per capita income in the next 30 years, would join the ranks of the developed countries, expects an enhanced global role as a permanent member of the reformed Security Council, “commensurate with its size, capabilities, contribution to UN peacekeeping operations and impeccable track record in upholding the UN system”.

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