India, UAE hold talks; to expand investment


New Delhi : India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Wednesday decided to expand trade and investment between them even as the Gulf country, home to over 1.4 million Indians, pushed for "an increased involvement" of New Delhi in the Gulf region.

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The two countries concluded a two-day meeting of their joint commission and discussed a broad spectrum of bilateral issues to step up economic, scientific and technical cooperation.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan led the two sides at the ministerial session of the ninth joint commission meeting that is being held after a gap of 13 years.

"Special emphasis was laid on enhancing investment cooperation between UAE and India, with particular reference to investment from UAE in the infrastructure sector," the external affairs ministry said after the meeting.

The two sides also discussed bilateral cooperation in human resource development, capacity building and investment by India in the hydrocarbon sector in the UAE.

In his talks with Sheikh Abdullah on the regional situation in the Middle East, Mukherjee backed efforts for an Israeli-Arab dialogue, and a peaceful, negotiated resolution of the conflict.

In a sign of burgeoning strategic ties between the two countries and goodwill India enjoys in the region, Sheikh Abdullah urged India to increase its involvement in issues affecting the Gulf countries to promote peace and stability in the region.

"At a regional level, we also look forward to an increased involvement by India in issues affecting the Gulf and neighbouring countries," Sheikh Abdullah said at the opening of the ministerial session.

"It is in both of our interests to work together more and more closely," he said as he underlined the close linkage between security and stability in the Indian subcontinent and the strategic Gulf region.

Sheikh Abdullah lauded the contribution of Indians working in the UAE.

"There have been commercial and cultural links between us for thousands of years, going back to the dawn of our recorded histories," he said.

"And these have developed and deepened over the last 30 or 40 years as the UAE has embarked on its process of rapid growth, a process in which I am pleased to note that India – and expatriate Indians – have played a significant part," he stressed.

Mukherjee conveyed India's appreciation for the important gesture by the UAE in declaring amnesty for three months to all workers in the UAE who needed to regularize their stay or who wished to return to their country of origin

The two ministers also discussed issues relating to the welfare of Indian workers in the UAE and reviewed steps to operationalise the joint committee, as envisaged in the memorandum of understanding on manpower recruitment signed between India and the UAE in December last year.

The agreement will ensure that recruitment of workers is in conformity with the laws of both countries and that all Indians employed in the UAE are protected in conformity with labour laws and regulations of that nation.

India's multi-faceted ties with the UAE are steadily growing. UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's visit to India in March marked growing economic and strategic engagement with the Gulf country that has emerged as a vibrant business hub in the region.