New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) Ahead of his three-nation tour to the Gulf and West Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that the region is a key priority for India’s foreign policy.
“I will be undertaking bilateral visits to Palestine, United Arab Emirates and Oman from February 9 to 12,” Modi said in a pre-departure statement here.
“I am happy to visit the Gulf and West Asian region for the fifth time since 2015. This region is a key priority in our external engagement,” he said, adding India enjoys “vibrant multi-dimensional ties” with its countries.
Modi will leave for Amman on Friday from where he will transit to Ramallah on Saturday in what will be the first ever Prime Ministerial visit from India to Palestine.
“I am grateful to His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan for facilitating the transit,” he said. “I look forward to meeting him in Amman on February 9.”
Modi said he was looking forward to discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and “reaffirming our support for the Palestinian people and the development of Palestine”.
This will be the fourth meeting between Modi and Abbas after their meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in 2015 and at the Paris climate summit later that year and the Palestinian President’s visit to India last year.
The visit will reaffirm India’s foreign policy position that its relationship with one country is independent of its ties with a third country and will de-hyphenate Israel and Palestine after Modi’s standalone visit to Israel in July last year.
From Palestine, Modi will reach Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on February 10 evening in what will be his second visit to the nation since his visit in August 2015.
“In UAE, I will hold talks with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi,” the Prime Minister said.
Modi will hold talks with the Crown Prince soon after his arrival following which several agreements will be signed. The next day, he will meet members of the Indian community and lay the foundation stone of a temple via video link.
From Abu Dhabi, Modi will proceed to Dubai where he will deliver the keynote address at the Sixth World Government Summit.
“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.
“There will be interactions with leading UAE and Arab CEOs in Dubai on the vast economic opportunities in India and what more can be done together to increase business collaboration.”
From Dubai, Modi will reach Muscat on February 11 in what will be the first prime ministerial from India to Oman in 10 years since the visit of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2008.
“Oman is a close maritime neighbour with whom we enjoy excellent relations,” the Prime Minister said, adding that India and Oman have thriving links rooted in centuries old people-to-people exchanges.
Modi will hold talks with Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said and also meet Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd and Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs Sayyid Asad.
“We will review bilateral cooperation and steps to further enhance our traditionally strong links,” he said.
“On February 12, I will interact with leading businesspersons of Oman on developing stronger economic and business links with India,” he added.
Modi said that both in the UAE and Oman, he will meet the large Indian diasporas that have made those countries their home.
“The Indian diaspora is a bridge of friendship between India and the Gulf countries,” he said.
While the UAE is home to over three million expatriate Indians, the number is over 800,000 in Oman.