NEW DELHI: With United Arab Emirates embarking forth on one of the Gulf regions’s most ambitious nuclear power program, it looks towards India for assistance with an agreement in civil nuclear energy to be signed during the visit of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The crown prince, who is also the deputy commander of the UAE armed forces, is arriving on Feb 10 for a three-day visit, accompanied by three royal brothers and seven ministers. While the high-level political delegation comprises of over 35 members, there will be over 100 Emirati businessmen also making a beeline to India during the state visit in a separate economic delegation.
Speaking to reporters here on Monday, UAE ambassador to India, Ahmed Al Banna said that 16 agreements are likely to be signed, out of which 12 have been finalized and the rest are under negotiations.
UAE has plans to produce 5.6 GW of nuclear energy from nuclear power reactors by 2020, as part of its long-term energy security plans.
During the August visit of Modi, nuclear energy had been one of the areas of cooperation that India and UAE had agreed to focus.
Al Banna said that the pact in civil nuclear energy – the first by India in the gulf region – would be “to set up some sort of research and development centre to enhance the usage of nuclear energy in a peaceful sense”.
The other areas where agreements will be signed are renewable energy, cyber crime, exchange of information, transportation and trade areas.
With counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation being one of the main takeaways of Modi’s UAE trip, Al Banna indicated that it will be taken forward during this bilateral visit.
The 2015 joint statement had raised expectations that UAE had given its full support to India vis-à-vis Pakistan, especially by clearly articulating that terrorism of all form had to be fought without discrimination.
When asked about UAE’s position on the Pathankot air force base attack which has derailed talks with Pakistan, Al Banna referred to the “very strong statement” issued by the foreign minister “on the first day itself”.
At the same time, he said that there were “positive signages” of improving relations between India and Pakistan and referred to the meeting national security advisors in Bangkok, followed by sudden transit through Lahore by PM Narendra Modi.
These events, Al Banna said, were “trying to open a new path of relationship” between the two South Asian neighbours. “We support it and we will try to make sure that it succeeds,” he added.