Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a brief stopover at Abu Dhabi on his way back from Germany and called on UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for what was the first in-person meeting between the two leaders since August 2019 when Modi last visited the UAE capital.
While the main purpose of the visit was to convey his personal condolences on the passing away of former president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the visit is significant as it came close on the heels of some serious resentment in the Arab world over the derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammad passed by BJP functionaries. India has stressed before the UAE and others that these comments in no way reflect the views of the Indian government.
The PM conveyed his heartfelt condolences to Al Nahyan as well as his family members and congratulated him on his election as the third president of the UAE and on becoming the ruler of Abu Dhabi, the government said in a statement. Modi thanked the UAE president for taking “great care” of the 3. 5-million Indian community in the UAE, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and invited him to visit India at an early date. The two leaders expressed satisfaction that “India and the UAE continue to forge closer partnership” and are building close and friendly relations and “historical people-to-people connect”.
“Both leaders reviewed various aspects of India-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which they have carefully nurtured over the past few years. During their virtual summit on February 18, both countries signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which has since entered into force on May 1. CEPA is expected to further boost trade and investment between both countries. Bilateral trade in FY 2021-22 was about $72 billion. UAE is India’s third largest trade partner and second largest export destination. UAE FDI in India has continuously increased over the past few years and currently stands at over $12 billion,” said the government in its statement.