PM Narendra Modi to visit France, UAE, Bahrain to boost ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit France, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for bilateral meetings that will focus on issues ranging from defence and security cooperation to energy security and the Indo-Pacific.

After completing his visits to the UAE and Bahrain, Modi will jet back to France to attend the outreach session of the G7 Summit in Biarritz.

The prime minister will first travel to Paris during August 22-23 for a bilateral meeting with President Emmanuel Macron. He will also participate in an event for the Indian community, people familiar with developments said.

Defence and security cooperation and regional and global issues, such as the situation in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific, are expected to figure in discussions between the two sides.

France, along with the US, played a key role in blocking a recent move by Pakistan to seek an open and formal meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the situation in Kashmir, the people said.

After his engagements in Paris, Modi will make a state visit to the UAE during August 23-24 and then to Bahrain during August 24-25.

In the UAE, Modi will meet the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to discuss bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest, the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

Modi will also receive the Order of Zayed, the UAE’s highest civil decoration that was conferred on him in April for giving a boost to bilateral relations. The award is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s founding father, and acquires special significance as it was awarded to Modi in the birth centenary year of Sheikh Zayed.

The UAE was the first Islamic country to describe India’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status as an internal matter, and the two sides have robust counter-terror and security cooperation.

During Modi’s trip to Bahrain, which will also be the first prime ministerial visit to the country, the prime minister will meet Prince Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, and discuss bilateral relations and regional and international issues. The King of Bahrain, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, will host a banquet dinner in honour of Modi, who will also launch the renovation of Shreenathji (Shree Krishna) temple in Manama.

The ties between India and the UAE were elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership during Modi’s previous visit in August 2015, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited India during January 2017 as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.

With annual bilateral trade of $60 billion, the UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner. It is also the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil for India and home to a 3.3 million-strong Indian community.

India has close relations with Bahrain and bilateral trade has been on the rise for the last few years, reaching about $1.3 billion in 2018-19. Bahrain is home to 3,50,000 Indian nationals, the largest expatriate community in the country.

Following these visits, Modi will head back to France to participate in the special outreach session of the G7 Summit in Biarritz during August 25-26.

The people said the reason for the itinerary was the scheduling for the bilateral meeting with Macron.

The Group of 7 (G7) – which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – usually engages key leaders from the world community through its outreach sessions during summits for frank discussions on a pressing challenge facing the globe. Modi has been invited this year for India’s key role in promoting globalisation and protecting the environment.

In recent years, India and France have worked closely on counter-terrorism and climate change. France played a key role in the efforts to designate Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee.

Source : Hindustan Times

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