Modi to visit UAE, Bahrain next week
New Delhi: Days after the UAE openly backed India over its Kashmir move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a three-day visit to United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, where the administration cracked down on Pakistanis holding an anti-India demonstration last week, beginning August 23 and hold extensive talks with top leaders of the two countries on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.
The UAE, which shares close bonds with India, had on August 6 said that the Indian government's decision to abrogate Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter of India aimed at improving efficiency.
The prime minister will first travel to United Arab Emirates where he would receive the 'Order of Zayed', the highest civil decoration of the country, the External Affairs Ministry said on Sunday.
From UAE, Modi will leave for Bahrain on August 24 on a two-day visit, which will be the first ever prime ministerial visit from India to the Gulf nation, the ministry said.
In April, the UAE announced conferring the prestigious award on Modi for playing a "pivotal role" in giving a "big boost" to the bilateral strategic ties.
The award in the name of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, acquires special significance as it was awarded to Modi in the year of the birth centenary of the leader of the Gulf nation.
"During his visit, the prime minister would be meeting the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest," the MEA said.
Ties between India and the UAE are on an upswing in the last few years.
With robust flow of bilateral investments and an annual bilateral trade of about USD 60 billion, the UAE is India's third-largest trade partner.
The influential Gulf nation is also the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil to India. The UAE has a 3.3 million-strong Indian community.
"The visit would further strengthen our friendly bilateral ties with the UAE," the MEA said.
In Bahrain, Modi will hold talks with his counterpart Prince Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa on entire spectrum of bilateral relations as well as on regional and international issues of mutual interest, the MEA said.
It said King of Bahrain Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa will be hosting a banquet dinner in honour of Modi.
During the visit, the prime minister will also launch the renovation of Shreenathji (Shree Krishna) temple in Manama.
The ties between India and Bahrain have witnessed renewed vigour in the last couple of years. India-Bahrain bilateral trade has been on the rise, reaching about USD 1.3 billion in 2018-19.
About 3,50,000 Indian nationals form the largest expatriate community in Bahrain and have been contributing to the development of Bahrain.
"The presence of over 3,000 Indian-owned/joint Ventures in Bahrain indicates the intense economic engagement between the two countries. The visit will provide an opportunity to further cement our mutually beneficial bilateral ties with Bahrain," the MEA said.
Last week, the Bahrain government had cracked down on a protest carried out by Pakistanis and some Bangladeshis over the Indian government's decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special status.
The rally was conducted after Eid prayers in Bahrain. Tweeting about the action taken, Bahrain's interior ministry had said that the local police had initiated legal proceedings against the protestors.
Last week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was given a cold shoulder when he called up Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to complain about India's moves on Kashmir. King Hamad had told Imran that Bahrain was closely analysing the situation in Kashmir and that all issues should be resolved through negotiations.
India enjoys close and friendly relations with Bahrain, rooted in ancient trade and cultural links and people-to-people contacts and underpinned by regular exchange of high-level visits.
(with agencies' inputs)