India and the United Arab Emirates will, in the near future, sign an agreement on security cooperation, addressing issues specially relating to counter-terrorism and maritime security, Secretary (East) Latha Reddy announced here on Monday evening. The decision, she said, was taken in the course of wide-ranging talks between President Pratibha Patil — currently on a tour of the Middle East — and UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan earlier in the day. Ms. Reddy said, “Our President emphasised that the agreement on security cooperation should be signed as early as possible by the Ministries concerned on both sides.”
She said Home Minister P. Chidambaram had already invited his UAE counterpart to India to sign the agreement.
The two leaders also agreed that specific proposals relating to enhancing the strategic relationship by focussing on education, science and technology and regional security be taken up at the coming meeting in Abu Dhabi of the Joint Commission which is headed by the Foreign Ministers.
The talks were sandwiched between the ceremonial welcome accorded to Ms. Patil at the Presidential Palace — the centrepiece of which is a fortress-like, rectangular courtyard typical of an Islamic palace — at Ras Al Akhdar and an official luncheon banquet hosted in her honour. The UAE President was accompanied during the talks by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, the Foreign Minister and Education Minister among others.
Ms. Reddy said the two leaders expressed satisfaction at the enhancement of the trade relationship, which had made the two countries the largest trading partners for each other in 2009-10, with trade crossing the $ 43-billion mark. An important area of cooperation discussed was that of food security, with the UAE President responding positively to Ms. Patil inviting UAE investment in projects for enhancing agricultural production in India, especially in the area of food processing.
The UAE was invited to participate in upstream and downstream activities in the petroleum sector to strengthen India's energy security, as well as in the infrastructure sector, including in the Railways.
Simultaneously, the UAE assured India that it would back New Delhi's efforts for a permanent seat in the United Security Council. The UAE President said, Ms. Reddy pointed out, that India had “the right to be a permanent member of a reformed U.N. Security Council.”
The two leaders also agreed that the welfare of the 1.75 million-strong Indian community in the UAE, especially the workers, should continue to be discussed by the Indian Ministry of Overseas affairs and the UAE Ministry of Labour.
Later in the evening, President Patil addressed members of the Indian expatriate community at the India Social and Cultural Centre here. Congratulating the Indians in the UAE for “playing a vital role in forging the abiding links between India and the UAE” through their positive presence in all spheres of economic community here, she urged them to “retune” themselves and “remain responsive to the changing needs of UAE.”