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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

On UAE’s highest civilian honour, PM Modi says ‘accept with utmost humility’

The United Arab Emirates announced on Thursday it will award its highest civilian honour to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “pivotal role” in boosting the strategic relationship between the two countries.

world Updated: Apr 04, 2019 20:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PM Modi is likely to make a brief visit to the UAE on April 20 to receive the award.
PM Modi is likely to make a brief visit to the UAE on April 20 to receive the award.(Virendra Singh Gosain/HTFILE PHOTO)
         

The United Arab Emirates announced on Thursday it will award its highest civilian honour to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “pivotal role” in boosting the strategic relationship between the two countries.

The UAE President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, made the announcement about the Zayed Medal, the highest decoration awarded to kings, presidents and heads of states, being given to Modi.

“We have historical and comprehensive strategic ties with India, reinforced by the pivotal role of my dear friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave these relations a big boost. In appreciation of his efforts, the UAE President grants him the Zayed Medal,” Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed tweeted.

Tweeting his response to the Crown Prince, Modi said he accepted the honour “with utmost humility”. He added, “Under your visionary leadership, our strategic ties have reached new heights. This friendship is contributing to the peace and prosperity of our people and planet.”

Modi is likely to make a brief visit to the UAE on April 20 to receive the award and join the foundation stone laying ceremony of BAPS Hindu Mandir, the first temple in the West Asian country, people familiar with developments said. The trip, if it goes through, will be Modi’s last foreign visit during his term as prime minister and is expected to be hours-long, they added.

There was no official word on the visit. Asked about the matter at a regular news briefing, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “As and when the next visit is planned, we will share the details with you as per the established norms.”

India, he said, has a strategic partnership with the UAE that has been strengthened in recent years. “Exchange of high-level visits between India and the UAE is an important component of this strategic partnership,” he added.

In 2017, the Crown Prince had gifted nearly 14 acres at Abu Mureikheh, midway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, for building the temple. During his second visit to the UAE as prime minister in February 2018, Modi participated in a “Vedic Shila Pujan” ceremony for the temple.

The Crown Prince, also deputy supreme commander of the UAE’s armed forces, said granting the Zayed Medal to Modi reflects the country’s “appreciation for his role and efforts in developing friendly relations and extending bridges of cooperation”.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted the award recognised Modi’s “stellar role in ushering in a new era of strategic partnership” with the UAE and the “best ever relations with the Islamic world”.

Modi, who first visited the UAE in 2015, assiduously worked to strengthen cooperation with the Emirates in a wide range of areas, including investment, energy, defence and security. The Crown Prince, who was chief guest at the Republic Day parade in 2017, played a key role in inviting India as a guest of honour at a meeting of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Abu Dhabi last month.

During the India-Pakistan stand-off after the Pulwama terror attack in February, the Crown Prince had telephoned Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan as part of efforts to de-escalate tensions.

First Published: Apr 04, 2019 20:42 IST