PM to solidify economic footprint in West Asia

THE HANS INDIA |   Feb 10,2018 , 04:08 AM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being received by the Jordan Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki, on his arrival, at Queen Alia International Airport, in Amman, Jordan on Friday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being received by the Jordan Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki, on his arrival, at Queen Alia International Airport, in Amman, Jordan on Friday

 Amman/New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday arrived in Jordan on the first leg of his tour of three West Asian countries, including Palestine, during which he would hold talks on deepening cooperation in strategic areas such as security and trade. The Prime Minister's visit will begin from Palestine from Saturday after transiting through Jordan, where he will meet King Abdullah later in the day.

Describing the Gulf and West Asia region as a "key priority" in India's external engagement, Modi ahead of his visit said his trip was aimed at strengthening ties with the region.  The tri-nation trip covering Palestine, UAE and Oman is the continuation of an extended outreach under his government to expand demographic, political and economic ties with India’s largest trade region.

The Prime Minister's visit to Palestine assumes importance as it comes at a time when India and Israel are moving closer. Modi visited Israel last year in July becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the country. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reciprocated the gesture by visiting India in January this year.

Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Palestine. In a facebook post, the Prime Minister said: "I look forward to strengthening India's growing and important ties with West Asia and the Gulf region through the visit." The External Affairs ministry said the visit was aimed at deepening “our multifaceted ties with the Gulf and West Asian region”. 

Officials said energy and security cooperation, trade and investment and counter-terror efforts will top Modi’s agenda during the February 9-12 trip to the region.Before embarking on the visit, the Prime Minister tweeted that the Gulf and West Asian region was a “key priority in our external engagement”.

After arriving in Amman, he is expected to meet King Abdullah II of Jordan who will facilitate his transit to Palestine on Saturday. “I am grateful to Abdullah for facilitating the transit and look forward to meeting him in Amman,” Modi said before leaving.

Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Palestine where he will meet President Mahmoud Abbas. “Looking forward to my discussions with President Abbas and reaffirming our support for the Palestinian people and the development of Palestine.” The Palestinian President, in a pre-arrival welcome statement, described Modi’s visit as “historic and significant”.

In both Oman and the United Arab Emirates, Modi was expected to meet the Indian diaspora which he described as “a bridge of friendship between India and the Gulf countries”. He is also scheduled to interact with UAE and Arab CEOs in Dubai on the economic opportunities in India.
An External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said the visit would redefine “our neighbourhood from a maritime perspective” when Modi arrives in Oman -- a close maritime neighbour of India. 

Modi is expected to hold talks with the Sultan of Oman and other leaders. There shall be interactions with business people of Oman on developing stronger economic links with India, Modi said.

In the UAE, he will hold talks with Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed. “At the invitation of the leadership of the UAE, I will be addressing the 6th edition of the World Government Summit in Dubai where India is the guest country of honour,” Modi said.

As many as 12 agreements are expected to be signed during Modi’s visit to the UAE. The agreements will include areas like finance and skills development.