Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince arrives; PM receives him at airport

Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince arrives; PM receives him at airport

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrived here today to a warm welcome by Prime Minister Narendra who went to the airport to receive the "special friend".

During Al Nahyan's three-day visit, his first to India, the two countries will discuss ways to enhance ties in a range of areas including energy, economy and security and are expected to sign a number of agreements in sectors like oil nuclear energy, IT, aerospace, railways and electronics.

"A special welcome for a special friend. PM @narendramodi personally receives HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan," tweeted the PMO with a photo of the two leaders shaking hands at the Palam Technical Airpor.

Modi had visited UAE in August last year, the first by an Indian Prime Minister after a gap of 34 years, and Al Nahyan had received him at the Abu Dhabi airport.

"This is Sheikh Mohammed's 1st state visit to India & am glad he is visiting with his family," Modi said in a tweet.

"Sheikh Mohammed is a visionary leader. His visit will add new vigour and momentum to comprehensive strategic partnership between India & UAE," the Prime Minister added.

Al Nahyan, also the Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE armed forces, is accompanied by a power-packed delegation for his three-day trip till February 12 which includes several top ministers and over 100 business tycoons and CEOs of top companies.

Official sources said Modi went to the airport to receive the Crown Prince without any disturbance to the normal traffic in a compact carcade without having any ambulance.

The two leaders will hold detailed deliberations tomorrow following which both sides are expected to sign a number of agreements to expand cooperation in sectors like oil nuclear energy, IT, aerospace, railways and electronics.

Ways to contain radicalism, stepping up counter-terrorism cooperation and dealing with the ISIS are likely to figure prominently in talks Al Nahyan will have with Modi tomorrow.

Economy of UAE, one of the leading producers of oil, has been hit hard by falling crude prices and it is expected that the Gulf nation would like to invest significantly in India's energy and infrastructure sectors from its sovereign wealth fund of around USD 800 billion.

India has been eying the fund, being managed by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, for its infrastructure sector including for railways, ports and roads.

Joint production of defence equipment is another key area where both the countries are working hard. Under the initiative, UAE may make investment for manufacturing such equipment in India and get the products' supply.

Strengthening existing cooperation in information sharing and counter-terrorism will be another focus area in view of rising threat of ISIS. UAE has deported about a dozen Indians with suspected links to the terror group.

"The security cooperation between the two countries has been exemplary. There is concrete meeting of minds on the issue," said Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs.

President Pranab Mukherjee will host a private lunch for Al Nahyan tomorrow, in a reflection of importance the government has accorded to his visit.

Al Nahyan will travel to Mumbai on Friday where he will visit Bombay Stock Exchange and interact with select industry leaders before departing.

A major focus of the visit by the UAE leader will be on significantly enhancing trade volume from current annual figure of USD 60 billion.

During Modi's visit to UAE in August, it was decided to increase the current volume of trade by 60 per cent in the next five years and Wadhwa said the two sides are drawing action plans to achieve that target.

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