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Warm Welcome for UAE PM Sh Mohammed in India

Courtesy: Khaleej Times, Gulf Times and other sources

New Delhi, Mar 26: Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was accorded a warm welcome on his arrival in the Indian capital on Sunday afternoon to begin a two-day historic state visit to the country.

Greeting him on the tarmac of the Indian Air Force base at Palam was India’s Cabinet Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi and the Minister of State for External Affairs, E. Ahmed.

Shaikh Mohammed’s momentous visit, however, begins in earnest early today with a ceremonious, red-carpet, welcome at the imposing Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace) where he will be received by Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam and Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh along with his cabinet colleagues.

He will be given a guard of honour by all three wings of India’s armed forces at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which will be followed by a clutch of high-level appointments that will see him and his delegation busy almost the whole day. Several UAE-India agreements will be signed at Hyderabad House after Shaikh Mohammed visits Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘samadhi’ (mausoleum) at Rajghat, then meets up with Sonia Gandhi, the chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, and later arrives for the formal reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

The UAE leader is also scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, and the parliamentary Opposition Leader, L.K. Advani, before attending a delegation-level meeting at Hyderabad House along with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. All the senior ministers from both sides will attend the meeting, which will be followed by the formal signing of five agreements.

Shaikh Mohammed, who is accompanied by senior ministers of his cabinet and top UAE businessmen, is also scheduled to meet and interact with Indian business leaders.

Also on the agenda is the signing of several key UAE-India agreements. Shaikh Mohammed will conclude his state visit after a state banquet hosted in his honour by the Indian Prime Minister.

The landmark visit underlines the prominence both countries have attached to their bilateral relations, and aims at further enhancing these traditional links.

With the UAE having rapidly emerged as a major economic hub in the region and India poised for a dramatic economic resurgence, there will also be much emphasis on giving a further boost to UAE-India trade and business links.

A range of bilateral and regional issues, in particular the latest political developments and the consequent security concerns, are also likely to be discussed in some detail between the two sides.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahmed said: “India expects that this long-awaited visit by Shaikh Mohammed will further enhance the traditional strong ties between the two countries. The UAE is very important for India. As our trading partner and home to 1.4 million Indians, the UAE has been maintaining a deep-rooted relation with us. We expect to build on our relations from such a strong foundation.”

Among those accompanying Sheikh Mohammed’s high-level delegation of top UAE Ministers and others are:

Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, Interior Minister Shaikh Saif bin Zayed al Nahyan, Economy Minister Shaikha Lubna al Qasimi, Dubai Civil Aviation Chairman and CEO of Emirates Group Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoun, Labour Minister dr Ali bin Abdullah al Kaabi, Minister of State for Financial and Industrial Affairs Dr Mohammed Khalfan bin Khabash and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi and other top officials.

Mohammad 'is a visionary leader'

New Delhi: India gave a rousing welcome to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who began his two-day historic visit on Sunday.

Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, and E. Ahamed, junior minister in the foreign office, received him at the airport. N. Ravi, Secretary East in the foreign office, was also present.

A grand ceremonial reception awaits Shaikh Mohammad at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President's House) this morning where both Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will formally receive him.

The Vice-President of the UAE is being accompanied by seven ministers, senior officials and business and media delegations on the visit that New Delhi hopes will turn out to be a landmark one.

Shaikh Mohammad's flight landed at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport around 6pm (IST) and he drove straight to the Hotel Maurya Sheraton in a black Presidential limousine.

Shaikh Mohammad has a hectic schedule today. Besides addressing a gathering of top Indian business leaders he will hold meetings with the Indian President, Singh, the ruling United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and leader of the Indian opposition Lal Krishna Advani.

One-to-one meeting

The most significant part of his visit is slated to take place at Hyderabad House where he will have a one-to-one meeting with the Indian Prime Minister followed by a delegation-level meeting. The two countries will sign various agreements to further boost Indo-UAE ties. Singh will host a dinner for the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE.

"It's a landmark visit. Shaikh Mohammad is a visionary leader and has been playing a significant role in Asia. Although India-UAE ties are very old, we are having the best of ties right now," Minister Ahamed told Gulf News, hailing him as the architect of improved Indo-UAE bilateral ties.

"I told him that we are happy receiving him and that we had been looking forward to his historic visit for a long time. He told me that for this reason only he decided to visit India," Minister Ahamed said.

"Shaikh Mohammad has tremendous foresight and experience. We expect his visit will give further synergy to the already booming trade-ties between the countries.

"We will try and convince him that India is a good partner to do business with and hope it will lead to further momentum in the UAE investing in India and Indian industries investing in the UAE," Arun Patankar, co-chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industries Gulf Council said.

This is Shaikh Mohammad's second official visit to India, coming after a gap of 33 years.

UAE, India will sign 5 accords

New Delhi: UAE and India will sign five agreements in the Indian capital here on Monday. The arrival of Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in New Delhi yesterday along with a high-level delegation, has set a new tone and tenor for the enhanced bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Shaikh Mohammed and Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh would also preside over the signing of the five agreements at Hyderabad House.

These include: A Memorandum of Understanding for technical cooperation in accreditation between the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology and the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories; an MoU for technical cooperation between Bureau of Indian Standards and the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology; MoU for assistance and mutual cooperation between Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI); Protocol amending the agreement for avoidance of double taxation.; and an agreement on a framework for industrial cooperation.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, E. Ahmed, said over the past two days a joint working group from both sides has also discussed other areas of cooperation. These include issues such as investment promotion and protection cooperation, combating crime and terrorism, cooperation in education, health, infrastructure development, hydrocarbon sector, labour and employment.

Shaikh Mohammed will also attend a joint reception today hosted by India’s three apex business groups - Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Assocham, followed by a luncheon at Shangri-La Hotel.


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