NEW DELHI: On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first trip to West Asia, India and United Arab Emirates relations have undergone a major facelift.
The Gulf nation fully backed India’s stance on the need to dismantle terror infrastructure, pushed for deeper counter-terrorism cooperation and even suggested a reassessment of traditional positions that favoured Pakistan, even as bilateral relations were upgraded to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’.
At the end of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit on Monday, the joint statement marked a major convergence on security, trade and terror issues and a departure from the past in bilateral relations, when UAE had leaned heavily towards Pakistan on Kashmir.
At the meeting on Monday, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed al Nahyan and Modu called “on all nations to fully respect and sincerely implement their commitments to resolve disputes bilaterally and peacefully, without resorting to violence and terrorism”.
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted this line with the tag ‘breakthrough’ to indicate the elation on the Indian side. Sources indicated that this was a vindication of India’s stance that all issues of outstanding nature with Pakistan could be discussed bilaterally under the Lahore declaration and the Shimla agreement.
This comes after Pakistan and UAE had gone through strained relations after Islamabad had refused to contribute troops for the GCC coalition that intervened in Yemen against the Houthi rebels. At that time, UAE Minister of State for foreign affairs Anwar Mohammed Gargash - with whom Modi took a selfie on Sunday - said that Pakistan could pay a “heavy price” for its “ambiguous stance”.
The bilateral document focused sharply on terrorism — the first time both countries strongly converged on the issue. It asserted that both leaders agreed to “denounce and oppose terrorism in all forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, calling on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they exist, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice”.
For the first time, India and UAE have set up a dialogue between between their National Security Advisors and National Security Councils. “The National Security Advisors, together with other high level representatives for security from both nations, will meet every six months. The two sides will also establish points of contact between their security agencies to further improve operational cooperation,” said the joint statement.
There was also concurrence to work together on controlling, regulating and sharing information on flow of funds toward radicalisation activities.An interesting bilateral initiative will be to coordinate efforts to “counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred, perpetrating and justifying terrorism or pursuing political aims”.