Important visit to a long time ally: BJP

“We haven’t given this region due diplomatic and strategic attention”

Updated - March 29, 2016 02:27 pm IST

Published - August 11, 2015 02:24 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) beginning Sunday has taken many by surprise but partymen say that a visit to India’s long time ally was important when juxtaposed with the other visits that the Prime Minister may undertake later, most notably to Israel.

“The UAE is the most progressive and open country in the region, where a large Indian diaspora exists and respected. Before any proposed visit to Israel, a country close to this government’s strategic plans, a visit to a Muslim and Arab country was important,” a party source said.

BJP spokesperson M. J. Akbar, however, does not see it in that light. Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Akbar said the Prime Minister’s visit should be seen as a “Mission Correction.”

“It is astonishing that no Indian Prime Minister has gone to the UAE in 34 years. The year 1981 is eight years after 1973, the year the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries undertook the oil pricing revolution,” he said.

“The last Prime Minister who visited did so at the beginning of this revolution. We have in fact not given this area due diplomatic and strategic attention, where we have huge human and strategic stakes,” he said.

He refused to see the visit as a necessary condition to calming a domestic constituency before engaging with Israel.

‘Not zero-sum game’

“Diplomacy is not a zero sum game, the hyphenation which is being attempted with this visit is artificial and strategically unsound,” he said. Mr. Modi’s trip will include a stop over at Abu Dhabi for a meeting with the political leadership on bilateral issues.

On the second day of the trip, he will address a meeting of the Indian diaspora in Dubai’s cricket stadium with a seating capacity for 40,000 people.

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