24 August 2019
Abu Dhabi: India-UAE bilateral ties have blossomed in the past four years as never before, largely due to the "excellent rapport" that the leadership of the two countries share, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, adding that he and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan "regard each other as brothers".
Prime Minister Modi is on a two day visit to Abu Dhabi, where he received the nation's highest civilian honour, the Order of Zayed, on Saturday. During the visit, Modi also gave two separate interviews to the Khaleej Times and to WAM news agency.
Modi said strengthening the close bilateral relationship had been "one of the most important foreign policy priorities" of his government. "I am happy that the leadership of the UAE attaches similar importance to relations with India... For this relationship, even the sky is not the limit," he told Khaleej Times.
He also said that being conferred the Order of Zayed was a "testimony to our growing partnership" and "an honour for the entire Indian nation of 1.3 billion people".
Asked if the personal connect with the UAE leadership had helped the relationship prosper, he said: "The Crown Prince and I regard each other as brothers. We have developed enormous goodwill and mutual respect. I believe that the excellent rapport between the two of us is an important driving force in realising the true potential of our relationship.
"As a result, India-UAE bilateral relations have grown in the last four years as never before. The excellent cooperation we receive from the leadership, has enabled us to transform the relationship not only in energy and people-to-people contact, but in trade, investments, defence, food and security cooperation."
On cooperation in fighting terror and revocation of Article 370, he told Khaleej Times: "India has been a victim of cross-border terrorism for over four decades. Both India and the UAE have a common interest in ensuring that the anti-humanity forces that shelter or promote terrorism in any way are compelled to give up their destructive policies. The UAE has shown full understanding of the strong steps we have taken against terrorism. We have exemplary cooperation to ensure mutual security.
"As far as Article 370 is concerned, our internal steps were taken in a completely democratic, open, transparent and constitutional manner. They were designed to end the isolation that had kept Jammu & Kashmir underdeveloped to serve the vested interests of a few. This isolation also allowed some of the youth to be misguided, get radicalised and take to violence and terrorism. We cannot afford to let these tendencies get any foothold in our harmonious society and distract us from the primary tasks of growth and development of the entire country. I appreciate the understanding the UAE and its leadership have shown for our steps and our reasons for taking them."
On trade and investments, he said the UAE's "commitment to invest $75 billion in India is a game changer. There has been a significant increase in flow of investments from the UAE during the last few years in areas ranging from ports, infrastructure and housing. But ours is not a relationship dominated by statistics. It is a strategic partnership based on shared vision and objectives."
"The vision for the next five years is to have investment-led growth. We are targeting around $1.5 trillion worth of investments in the coming five years. To achieve this vision, the government is working on policies to promote inflows from domestic as well as foreign sources."
"We have set our sights on becoming a $5 trillion economy in the next five years. The UAE is diversifying its economy, going beyond its traditional sectors of strength. Together, we have the vision and roadmap as well as size, momentum and resources to achieve prosperity. It is a win-win for both, and also for the world. Our economies can complement each other using growing synergies and the presence of millions of Indians in the UAE," he said.
In his interview to WAM, the PM said he believes that his third visit to the UAE, in the last four years, reflects the desire and will of the two countries to sustain the momentum achieved in the bilateral relationship.
"In this visit, I look forward to further strengthening our all-round cooperation. I also look forward to holding discussions with my brother His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed. I greatly admire his vision. I always find exchange of views with him stimulating and energising," he explained.
"We have a number of important matters to discuss regarding bilateral relations as well as the regional and global situation. I am confident that my visit will serve to further strengthen our robust and vibrant relations," Modi said.
"I am very upbeat about the trajectory of our relations and for opening up new areas of cooperation. I think there exist huge potential to make this cooperation a win-win (partnership) for both countries," he added.
Speaking about the Indian community in the UAE, Modi said: "We are immensely proud that the rich contribution of our community to building a modern, diverse and vibrant UAE are acknowledged and appreciated by the leadership of the UAE.
"Apart from the Indians whose remittances sustain their families back home in India, we are also witnessing a steady increase in investments into India by some of the top Indian business leaders in the UAE.
"I extend my deepest appreciation to the leadership of UAE for looking after the well-being of the Indian diaspora here like a true guardian. I would also like to thank the leadership of UAE for the steps taken recently to provide long-term visas and other benefits to expatriates."