ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Aug. 16 (UPI) — India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the United Arab Emirates Sunday for the first part of a two-day visit to hold talks with the Emirati leadership concerning trade and security.
The first Indian prime minister to visit the Gulf nation in 34 years, Modi had previously told Indian media he wanted to see the UAE as India’s “foremost trade and investment partner,” adding that the two nations had a “range of common security and strategic concerns in the region, including terrorism and extremism.”
“This is the way I look at the UAE,” The Times of India, citing an interview to Khaleej Times newspaper, quoted Modi as saying. “The Gulf region is vital for India’s economic, energy and security interests.”
Modi’s first stop was the Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque in Abu Dhabi — the third largest in the world — where he snapped a selfie with the UAE’s minister of higher education and scientific research, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, and its minister of state for foreign affairs, Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash.
According to the Hindustan Times, the UAE directly invests $3.1 billion into India’s economy, while about 45,000 Indian companies operate in the Emirates. India is the UAE’s second-largest trading partner.
Both nations are battling multiple extremist groups.
As recently as last week, Indian troops killed two militants during a firefight in Indian-administered Kashmir. Officials suspect gunmen who laid siege to a police station in Punjab state last month came from the same region.
A suicide attack by al-Qaida-linked militants across the Pakistani border killed the home minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province and 12 other people on Sunday.
The UAE, meanwhile, is a member of the Saudi-led coalition bombing Houthi rebels in Yemen, as well as the U.S.-led coalition bombing Islamic State forces in Syria. Earlier this month it is reported to have deployed ground troops and armored vehicles to the Yemeni conflict, days after it arrested 41 accused members of a group known as Shabab Al Manarah, or “The Minaret Youths,” on charges of terrorism and plotting to establish a caliphate in the Gulf Arab country.