String of trade, security deals expected as Abu Dhabi Crown Prince visits India
NEW DELHI - India and the United Arab Emirates are eyeing a string of defence, infrastructure and other deals when Abu Dhabi's crown prince starts a visit to New Delhi late Wednesday, an official said.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the two-day trip aimed at bolstering trade which reached $59 billion last year.
The trip comes six months after Modi became the first Indian premier in three decades to visit the UAE, as he seeks to attract more foreign investment, including from the oil-rich state's sovereign wealth fund.
"The visit takes place after we decided to elevate our relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership during the PM's August visit," India's foreign ministry secretary (east) Anil Wadhwa told reporters.
The crown prince, deputy chief of the UAE armed forces, arrives late Wednesday accompanied by a large business delegation, before talks with Modi the next day.
Counter-terrorism is expected to be on the agenda, with India seeking exchanges of information with the UAE about regional security threats.
The UAE is part of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group that has seized parts of Syria and Iraq.
Delhi hopes to advance agreements on jointly producing defence equipment, as India undertakes a massive modernisation of its ageing military, Wadhwa said, without specifying any deals.
Delhi is also seeking to secure investment in major infrastructure projects as the government overhauls its dilapidated railway and road networks.
Abu Dhabi is the largest of seven emirates making up the UAE, which is India's third largest trading partner after the US and China and is a major supplier of oil.
The UAE is also home to around 2.6 million Indian expatriates who mostly work on construction sites.
UAE state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said ahead of the visit the two countries were seeking to increase trade by 60 percent within five years.