- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in the United Arab Emirates for his seventh trip to the country.
- Modi and Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan signed bilateral agreements and discussed strengthening ties, including a bilateral investment treaty and energy issues.
- Modi's visit coincided with clashes between Indian police and farmers demanding guaranteed prices for crops in New Delhi.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday for his seventh trip to the country, preparing to be feted by tens of thousands of his compatriots ahead of his country's elections in the coming months.
Modi was greeted upon landing in Abu Dhabi by Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a man he repeatedly called his brother as he worked to strengthen ties between the peninsula nation Arabia which is home to millions of Indians. The two leaders walked past an honor guard before sitting down for their meeting, during which bilateral agreements were signed between the nations.
Modi praised “our closeness and the way we have progressed in all areas.”
MIDDLE EAST’S FIRST STONE HINDU TEMPLE PREPARES TO OPEN AHEAD OF MODI’S VISIT
He added: “Brother, it is also a matter of happiness that we are going to conclude (a) bilateral investment treaty. This will also have a long-term impact.”
The two sides also discussed energy issues. India remains a key buyer of UAE oil and is now exploring the possibility of also purchasing liquefied natural gas from the UAE, according to a statement from the Indian delegation.
The United Arab Emirates offered no immediate information about the trip or discussions between the two men.
On Tuesday evening, tens of thousands of Indians are expected to gather at the Zayed Sports City stadium to see Modi. Only Indian nationals were allowed to attend the event in Abu Dhabi, organizers said.
Modi's arrival came as Indian police on Tuesday used tear gas and arrested some farmers who clashed with them and tried to break barricades, blocking their path to New Delhi to demand guaranteed prices for crops . In 2021, farmers camped out for months in India's capital after Modi withdrew controversial farm laws that sparked previous protests.
The protests could pose a significant challenge to Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of upcoming elections in India, the world's largest democracy. However, Modi is expected to win a third term.
Of the more than 9 million people living in the UAE, India estimates that more than 3.5 million are Indian expatriates, making them the largest national group in the country, surpassing even Emirati citizens. Although many are low-paid workers, there are a growing number of white-collar workers and several generations of Indian families.
Modis' visit highlights the long-standing economic and historical ties between the two countries, from spice trading and gold smuggling in the UAE's formative years to tens of billions of dollars in annual bilateral trade today.
BIDEN PRIORITIZES PARTNERSHIP WITH INDIA DESPITE CONCERNS ABOUT MODI'S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD AND TIES WITH RUSSIA
The countries signed a free trade agreement in 2022 aimed at doubling their bilateral trade to $100 billion. The countries agreed to allow India to settle certain payments in rupees rather than dollars, thereby reducing transaction costs.
This relationship also highlights the UAE's realpolitik foreign policy. The United Arab Emirates has embraced Modi as Muslims in India increasingly come under attack from Hindu nationalist groups. Modi received the UAE's highest civilian honor in 2019 even as he stripped statehood from the disputed Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.
Modi's first visit to the Emirates in 2015 was the first by an Indian prime minister in 34 years.
Modi will also address the World Government Summit in Dubai and inaugurate a new stone-carved Hindu temple near Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, while in the United Arab Emirates. He will then travel to Qatar.
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