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Abu Dhabi crown prince to be R-Day chief guest

nationpaper Updated: Oct 03, 2016 09:04 IST

NEW DELHI: Cementing the India-UAE comprehensive strategic ties, crown prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in January 2017, the ministry of external affairs announced on Sunday.

His presence is expected to send a strong message that the Gulf nation is standing by India in its fight against terrorism. The visit comes at a time when India has mounted a diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan for fostering terrorism against it.

“The coming of HH Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will give a very strong boost to the vibrant India-UAE ties,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

The crown prince was in India in February and was received at the airport by Modi, in a departure from protocol.

The Emirates royalty was in India six months after Modi’s visit to the oil-rich capital of the UAE in August 2015, the first by an Indian Prime Minister after a gap of 34 years. “We hope 2 welcome a dear friend of India, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, as Republic Day 2017 Chief Guest,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted to announce the visit.

The crown prince also tweeted that he has written a letter to Modi, thanking him for the “kind invitation”.

“Our strong relations are deeply rooted in history; our strategic cooperation has increased, driven by our mutual aspirations to develop it,” Prince Zayed Al Nahyan tweeted.

This is the third time that India is receiving a special guest from the West Asian region for the Republic Day celebrations. In 2006, the King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, was the chief guest.

The UAE condemned the terror attack at an army base in Uri.