Sunday , 22 September 2019
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UAE Foreign Minister to visit India amid Gulf tensions

IANS

New Delhi

In a move to take growing bilateral relations forward and further strengthen their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be on a three-day official visit to India from July 7.

Sheikh Abdullah, who is also the Minister for International Cooperation, will be accompanied by a senior-level delegation.

He will hold talks with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. He will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said an official statement from the Ministry of External Affairs.

The visit assumes significance as the UAE has called for de-escalation of tensions in the Gulf and urged world powers to help secure maritime traffic and energy supplies in the Gulf of Oman following the attacks last month on two tankers in the key shipping channel.

Sheikh Abdullah was in Moscow last week and held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on ways to de-escalate tensions between the US and Iran.

Tensions have been rising between Iran and the US after Tehran shot down a US drone over the Strait of Hormuz last month.

The UAE is also reported to be planning to pull out most of its forces from the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

On June 13, two oil tankers were hit by unknown attackers in the Gulf of Oman. The US blamed Iran for the attack.

The UAE is India’s fourth largest energy supplier. Sheikh Abdullah’s visit also comes amid reports that India has reduced oil imports from Iran following the US request to “zero out” Iranian oil imports after May 2.

The UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner and is also the first country to participate in India’s “Strategic Petroleum Reserves” programme.

The UAE is home to a 3.3 million-strong Indian community, the largest in the Gulf region.

As the chair of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the UAE had invited India as the “Guest of Honour” at the 46th Council of Foreign Ministers meeting of the powerful grouping in Abu Dhabi in March this year.

Prime Minister Modi visited the UAE in August 2015 during which the two countries decided to elevate their relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. He also visited the UAE in February 2018.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had visited India during February 2016 and in January 2017 when he was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations.

The UAE Foreign Minister visited India in September 2015 and June 2018 and also accompanied the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince in 2016 and 2017.

The latest visit would provide the two sides an opportunity to explore new areas of cooperation to further strengthen their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the External Affairs Ministry said.

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