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Prime Minister Modi heads for Palestine, UAE & Oman, foundation laying of temple in agenda

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 08, Feb 2018, 16:58 pm IST | UPDATED: 09, Feb 2018, 8:47 am IST

Prime Minister Modi heads for Palestine, UAE & Oman, foundation laying of temple in agenda New Delhi: Commencing his three nation packed tour of Palestine, the UAE and Oman from February 9 to 12, Prime Minister Modi does an ice breaker as the first sitting PM visiting Palestine. His first stop will be Ramallah. He will travel to Ramallah via Amman with Jordan providing the logistic support for the transit. After laying a wreath at the Yasser Arafat Museum, the PM will hold talks with President Abbas and his team. At a news conference on the visit, joint secretary (West Asia and North Africa division) B Bala Bhaskar explained the importance of Modi’s visit to Palestine.

"Number one, PM's going itself is reiterating our commitment personally to the Palestinian leadership, I mean our commitment for the past 70 years, the PM is going there and he is reiterating and he is expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people directly,’’ India, he pointed, out was also "continuously participating in the Palestinian nation-building and capacity building, infrastructure".

The Palestinian President will also host a banquet lunch in honour of Prime Minister Modi. The Prime Minister will then continue the next leg of his visit to the UAE.

So far, India has undertaken projects worth $30 million. A clutch of MOUs will be signed during Modi’s visit. The prime minister will also visit the India-Palestine ICT park, which is under construction and expected to create employment for young Palestinians.

Prime Minister Modi will fly to the UAE from Ramallah. Here, as also in Oman, apart from the political discussion, the focus will be majorly on the economy. With national elections just a year away, the government is going out of its way to bring in investments for job creation, a major election promise of the PM which has not taken off.

MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar said, "The prime minister’s visit is being undertaken as part of larger exercise to fulfil the government’s domestic and international agenda and also to bring some benefit to the people on the ground, to the common people. I think there are certain elements in the programme where there will be direct benefit to the people."

In Dubai, Prime Minister would address the Sixth World Government Summit being at which India has been extended 'Guest of Honour' status. The prime minister will speak about the government's vision for using technology for fostering development. He also meet the Indian Community in Abu Dhabi and lay the foundation stone of a Hindu Temple to be built in Abu Dhabi. Prime Minister Modi will meet with UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum. He will also hold meetings with Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan to develop the comprehensive strategic partnership between the nations.

After a two day stay in UAE, The Prime Minister will visit Oman, where he would hold meetings with Omanese leadership to deepen ties in trade and defence. Cooperation in Security and Counter terrorism would be the focus of his talks with leadership of all three Countries. Prime Minister Modi would also interact the Indian expatriats during a community event in a stadium in Muskat. He will also visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and a Shiva temple in Oman.

Since Modi became the prime minister in 2014, India’s engagement with the rich Gulf region has shown an upward trajectory. India’s stakes in the region are high with as many as nine million Indians working in the region. These workers send back as much as $35 billion to their families back home. The six GCC countries account for 20 per cent of India’s bilateral trade and amounts to roughly $110 billion. Again 50 per cent of India’s oil is bought from the region. As much as 60per cent-65 per cent of energy requirements like natural  gas are also sourced in the GCC.

GCC members are also cash rich and looking to move away from oil revenue. India is a lucrative destination and now more and more Gulf business houses are looking to invest here. During Modi’s earlier visit to the UAE in August 2015, the hosts had promised to invest $75 billion in India. Although the MEA refused to give the exact amount of investments that have so far flown,  Mridul Kumar, joint secretary Gulf (MEA), said the FDI from the UAE has gone into "hardcore infrastructure areas, areas which are very critical to not only for the development of the country but also to making sure that these developmental fruits are passed on to individuals who are at the bottom of our society." He was referring to the UAE investments in low-cost housing.

Oman will be the last leg of the prime minister’s visit. After a two day stay in UAE, in Oman, he would hold meetings with Omanese leadership to deepen ties in trade and defence. Cooperation in Security and Counter terrorism would be the focus of his talks with leadership of all three Countries. Prime Minister Modi would also interact the Indian expatriats during a community event in a stadium in Muskat. He will also visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and a Shiva temple in Oman.

Oman is the first Gulf country to have formal military ties with India since 2006. The  navy and air force  of the  two countries hold regular exercises and the Indian Navy has berthing rights in Muscat and uses Oman’s portfor anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The defence agreement with Oman help the projection of the Indian Navy to the Gulf region and adds to the country’s maritime reach.

In short, the PM's visit, while mainly economic, will also lend depth to New Delhi’s growing defence co-operation with the Gulf region, considered as India’s extended neighbourhood. Like successive Indian governments, Modi is also delicately balancing ties with Israel as well as Palestine and the Arab world.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have a packed schedule during his three-day-visit to Palestine, United Arab Emirates and Oman beginning Friday. This is the first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Palestine.

Presidency welcomes historical visit of India’s prime minister

Palestinian press has put out reports of Prime Minister Modi's visit. WAFA, Palestine News Agency statement issued on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's one day state visit to Palestine stated, 'The presidency welcomed the upcoming 'historical and significant' visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is expected to arrive in Ramallah on Saturday'.

It states, 'The visit is considered historical, because it will be the first for an Indian Prime Minister to visit Palestine.

The presidency said President Mahmoud Abbas will welcome Modi at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah, where the two will discuss issues of mutual interest and the latest political developments in the region.

Topics such as bilateral relations between the two countries and the regional issues of relevance will be on the agenda.

The presidency said the visit will be a unique chance to express appreciation for India’s ongoing support and positions that support peace and Palestinians’ right to freedom and independence.

Bilateral agreements will be signed to strengthen the friendship between the Palestinian and Indian people and cooperation in important fields, it added.

The two leaders are expected to appear in a joint press conference.
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