The United Arab Emirates on Monday came out in strong support of India's quest for a permanent seat in a reformed United Nations Security Council, with President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan telling his Indian counterpart Pratibha Patil that this was New Delhi's “right”.

“His Highness [the UAE President] stated that UAE would certainly support India, which had the right to be a permanent member of a reformed U.N. Security Council,” Secretary (East) Latha Reddy told reporters after the “warm and friendly” talks between the two leaders, reflecting the close ties between the countries.

Ms. Patil was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Musharif Palace by her UAE counterpart on whose invitation she arrived here on Sunday night on a five-day official visit, her first to the Gulf region.

He later hosted a banquet in her honour.

The visit has come at a time when UAE has emerged as India's largest trading partner in terms of total trade exchange in the first half of 2010, with $ 43 billion bilateral trade, and oil imports by India accounting for $ five billion.

Seeking to boost their ties to a new level of cooperation, the two leaders favoured cooperation in diverse fields, with Ms. Patil asking energy-rich UAE to make investments in the upstream and downstream projects in the petroleum sector, food processing and infrastructure areas including Railways.

The two sides also saw regional security as an area of enhanced cooperation.

Ms. Reddy said the Indian Home Minister has invited his UAE counterpart to New Delhi for the signing of the agreement on security cooperation.

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