New Delhi: Aimed at giving impetus to their ties, India and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement and over a dozen pacts in key areas like defence, security, trade and energy amidst assertion by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that cooperation stands poised for a "major take off".
However, as hoped by India, a pact pertaining to the $75 billion investment fund, committed by the UAE in 2015, was not among the fourteen pacts which were signed after the talks between Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising ministers, senior officials and top businessmen, Al Nahyan, who will be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade tomorrow, also echoed Modi's views, saying, "As never before, our relationship has reached impressive heights...I look forward to seeing our relationship reach even more towering heights."
Terming his discussions as "fruitful and productive", Modi, at a joint press event with the UAE leader, said the discussions were wide ranging covering the entire spectrum of the bilateral engagement.
"We have shaped an ambitious roadmap of engagement to make our comprehensive strategic partnership purposeful and action oriented. The agreement that was exchanged just now has institutionalised this understanding," Modi said.
Asserting that security and defence cooperation have added growing new dimensions to the ties, he said their closer ties are of importance, not just to both the countries but also of significance to the entire neighbourhood. He also said convergence between the two countries can help stabilise the region and the economic partnership can be a source of regional and global prosperity.
"We exchanged views on developments in West Asia and the Gulf, where both countries have a shared interest in peace and stability. We also discussed developments in our region, including Afghanistan. Our shared concern on growing threat from radicalism and terrorism to the safety and security of our people is shaping our cooperation in this space," Modi said. He noted, "Moving forward, our cooperation stands poised for a major take off. I am confident, Your Highness, that your visit will build on the strong gains and understanding of our previous interactions. And shape its future framework marked by depth, drive and diversification of our partnership."
However, the two sides did not sign a pact pertaining to the $75 billion investment as was hoped by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials on Tuesday.
"During the visit, we are hoping to sign an MoU between their investment fund and our National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF)" which will put in place a framework as to how the fund will be administered and which all sectors it can be invested in, Secretary for Economic Relations in MEA Amar Sinha had told reporters Tuesday.
Asked as of why the accord was not inked, senior officials said, "Talks are in an advanced stage and this visit has helped in identifying sectors in which the investment can be made." Noting that they have agreed to expand cooperation in the field of defence to new areas including in the maritime domain, Modi said the MoU on Defence Cooperation will help steer the defence engagements in the right direction.
"We also feel that our growing engagement in countering violence and extremism is necessary for securing our societies," the prime minister said.
Ahead of delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House, the two leaders held a one-on-one meeting for nearly one hour at the Prime Minister's official residence here.
Counter- terrorism and security situation in the region were among other key issues discussed between the two of them. Terming the UAE as one of India's most valued partners and a close friend in an important region of the world, Modi said, "We regard the UAE as an important partner in India's growth story," adding that he has conveyed the interest of Indian companies to be a partner in infrastructure projects for the World EXPO 2020 in Dubai.
"I particularly welcome the UAE's interest in investing in India's infrastructure sector. We are working to connect the institutional investors in the UAE with our National Investment and Infrastructure Fund," the prime minister said.
Al Nahyan also said it was refreshing to see how the Indian leadership is keen to strengthening relations with the UAE, which makes him even more confident about the prospects of the Strategic Partnership Agreement that they have signed.
"Fostering our relationship with India is a strategic choice for the UAE under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, especially in light of our identical views on regional and international issues. No doubt, our Strategic Partnership Agreement will make our relationship stronger at the political, security and economic levels," the visiting dignitary added.