Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pitched for close partnership between United Arab Emirates and India to counter terrorism amid the cloud of Islamic State terror in the region.
Modi, who is in Abu Dhabi on a two-day visit to the UAE, emphasised the need to forge strong counter-terrorism measures between the two nations, besides expanding trade and investment ties.
India is UAE’s second largest trading partner while 45,000 Indian companies operate in the rich west Asian nation. Foreign direct investment to India from the emirates is over $3.1 billion.
Given the trade and investment volume, the emphasis on counter-terrorism measures assumes significance as both countries are concerned about the threat from Islamic State, primarily operating now in Iraq and Syria but growing in stature in the entire Gulf region.
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“We will build regular and effective cooperation in a full range of security challenges. Our armed forces would engage with each other more. We will work together more closely in international forums and in addressing regional challenges,” Modi told Khaleej Times in an interview.
India is focusing a great deal on the threat from Islamic State, which figures in discussions between Modi and world leaders. The formal announcement of IS-Khorasan —spanning Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Iran, Central Asia, India, and Bangladesh — in early January has all these countries uniting for a greater cause.
The UAE, which had joined hands with the US against the Islamic State — a first since an alliance with the Americans in the 1991 Gulf war, and India have common interests in fighting the world’s most ruthless terror outfit, Indian officials said.
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UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan told the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 that the Islamic State’s menace was expanding beyond West Asia. “The UAE, therefore, calls upon the international community and member states to cooperate in combating these terrorist groups and take comprehensive measures to fight them through a clear, unified strategy,” he said.
Experts saw in the statement a tough stand by the UAE against radical Islamic forces following the popular public uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.
The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was at the airport on Sunday in a break from the protocol to receive Modi, is seen as the force behind the new verve in the country’s foreign policy.
Unlike Qatar, the UAE along with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have stronger views about Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and had cracked down on associates of that grouping in the UAE since 2013.
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