After Saudi trip, Pranab set on UAE mission

Pranab Mukherjee

Pranab Mukherjee  

Atul Aneja

To add momentum to growing ties with resource-rich Gulf

DUBAI: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will arrive in Abu Dhabi next week to impart further momentum to India’s growing ties with its resource-rich Gulf neighbours.

The visit comes close on the heels of his trip to Saudi Arabia last month. “Flushed with funds and wary of the economic crisis in the West, the Gulf countries are looking at deeper engagement with emerging markets, including India,” diplomatic sources said.

India is seeking investments from the Gulf to fulfil its ambitious infrastructure development plans. With surplus funds available from soaring oil prices, the Gulf countries are looking for human resource from India to develop non-oil sectors, including information technology, construction, transportation and services.

Mr. Mukherjee’s talks, spread over two days, will begin on May 12. He will meet United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. On May 13, he will call on the Vice-President, Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“Our dialogue will not be confined to bilateral issues because the UAE has already established itself as a major player in the region,” Indian Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad said.

Security platform likely

Analysts point out that despite intensive economic interaction, India and the countries of the region are yet to establish a dialogue mechanism on regional security on the lines of the Asean Regional Forum or the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The possibility of establishing a security platform, which can include other regional heavyweights as well, is also likely to emerge during the discussions.

Both sides are also aware that a track-II mechanism involving people-to-people interaction is yet to be put in place. A discussion on regularising foreign office consultations for discussing political issues and the India-UAE Joint Commission on economic subjects is also on the agenda.

Investment destinations

Mr. Mukherjee will share India’s vision of engaging the region and the world during an address at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research. On the economic side, the UAE has already flagged its interest in deepening ties with Asia.

The Dubai Investment Capital, a $13-billion fund, has sharpened its focus on India and China as major investment destinations. The emerging economies are also of growing interest to Mubadala, UAE’s high profile state investment vehicle.

India, on its part, has been encouraging the UAE to invest in the $92-billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. India could absorb $500-600 billion of overseas capital for development of its infrastructure, the sources said.

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