Narendra Modi likely to visit UAE for World Government Summit
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to lead the Indian delegation to the World Government Summit early next year, hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where India has been invited as the guest country, a person familiar with the development said on Tuesday.
If Modi’s visit works out, it will be his second to the UAE which has emerged as a key strategic partner of India in the Gulf region where millions of expatriate Indians work, sending back valuable foreign exchange remittances, and which is also a major source of energy for India. Bilateral trade now stands at $53 billion with the UAE following the US and China as India’s top trade partners.
Modi’s first visit in August 2015 transformed the contours of bilateral ties. Following that, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces, visited India twice—once in February 2016 and then as the chief guest of India’s Republic Day celebrations in 2017.
The UAE’s ambassador in India, Ahmed al Banna, did not rule out Modi’s visit during the 11-13 February World Government Summit when asked by reporters in New Delhi. “I think due to the importance and the strategic relations (between India and the UAE) there has to be such visits” to keep up the momentum in ties, al Banna said.
He was speaking to reporters after the launch of a new mobile application of the UAE embassy in India, which offers easy access to information on subjects like visa application procedures for Indians travelling to the Gulf country. It also has information for UAE nationals travelling to India.
A news report in the Gulf News daily in October said that “honorary guests from India will join the notable list of speakers synonymous with the World Government Summit to showcase the country’s emerging economic growth, highlight valuable knowledge, skills, and capabilities and elaborate on the country’s unique culture”.
The summit is expected to be addressed by leaders including Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde besides the vice-president and prime minister of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
The Gulf News report also quoted Mohammad Abdullah al Gergawi, UAE’s minister of cabinet affairs and the future, and chairman of the World Government Summit, as saying that the choice of guest countries for the summit depended on their credentials of having “exceptional experiences worthy of being global models to follow.”
“India carries such a model, especially in terms of the economic and social changes witnessed over the last few years,” the report said.
Responding to a question on Pakistan freeing 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed last week after 10 months of detention, al Banna said India and the UAE exchange “a lot of information and we have created a mechanism for exchange of information.”
“We denounce terrorism and we denounce extremism and we work very closely with India and many different countries in the world to counter-attack all those organisations that have been listed either by the UN or by some other countries as terrorist organisations,” al Banna said.
Separately, the UAE ambassador also said that his country would be opening three more visa service centres in Chandigarh, Chennai and Hyderabad that would smoothen the process of visa and information procurement for Indians wanting to travel to the UAE. The Gulf country has two consular offices in Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram besides its embassy in New Delhi.
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