New Delhi: Boosting trade ties by ramping up UAE's investment in India and stepping up defence and security cooperation in the wake of rising threat of IS are set to be the major focus of talks between Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
Economy of UAE, one of the leading producers of oil, has been hit hard by falling crude prices and it is expected that the Gulf nation would like to invest significantly in India's energy and infrastructure sectors from its sovereign wealth fund of around USD 800 billion.
India has been eying the fund, being managed by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, for its infrastructure sector including for railways, ports and roads. Joint production of defence equipment is another key area where both the countries are working hard. Under the initiative, UAE may make investment for manufacturing such equipment in India and get the products' supply.
Strengthening existing cooperation in information sharing and counter-terrorism will be another focus area in view of rising threat of IS. UAE has deported about a dozen Indians with suspected links to the terror group.
"The security cooperation between the two countries has been exemplary. There is concrete meeting of minds on the issue," said Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs.
Asked whether India will raise the issue of attaching properties of wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim in UAE, Wadhwa refused to talk about any specific individual maintaining these are "ongoing processes".
Al Nahyan is accompanied by a power-packed delegation for his three-day trip till 12 February which includes several top ministers and over 100 business tycoons and CEOs of top companies.
President Pranab Mukherjee will host a private lunch for Al Nahyan on Thursday, in a reflection of importance the government has accorded to his visit. Wadhwa said he does not recall such gesture by the President in recent times. The Crown Prince will also have a working dinner with Modi on Thursday.
A number of pacts in a wide range of sectors like nuclear energy, oil, IT, aerospace and railways are expected to be signed on Thursday after talks between Modi and Al Nahyan, an influential leader in the UAE who is also the country's Deputy Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
After visit here of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in March last year, Al Nahyan is another important leader to come to New Delhi from Gulf region, home to 7 million Indians who are a major source of remittances. It also fulfills 60 per cent of India's energy needs.
"The visit takes place after we have decided to elevate our relationship to comprehensive strategic partnership during our Prime Minister's visit to UAE in August last year and this will provide an opportunity to have detailed discussions to consolidate the domains of existing partnership," said Wadhwa.
He said areas of cooperation will include production of defence equipment in India, strategic partnership in security and counter-terrorism and cooperation in nuclear and space sectors.
Al Nahyan will travel to Mumbai on Friday where he will visit Bombay Stock Exchange and interact with select industry leaders before departing.
Wadhwa said collaboration in counter-terrorism including information exchange and steps to ensure that youths do not get radicalised have been in place.
A major focus of the visit by the UAE leader will be on significantly enhancing trade volume from current annual figure of USD 60 billion.
During Modi's visit to UAE, it was decided to increase the current volume of trade by 60 per cent in the next five years and Wadhwa said the two sides are drawing action plans to achieve that target.
On the proposal that UAE would invest upto USD 75 billion dollars in India, Wadhwa called it an "aspirational figure" adding discussions were on for investment in diverse areas.
India is UAE's number one trading partner while the Gulf nation is India's third largest trading partner after the US and China. UAE is India's second largest export destination.
For India's energy security, UAE is an important country as it gets 9.38 per cent of total crude requirement from that country. The volume of supply in 2014-15, was 15.99 million metric tonnes.
The two countries had already agreed to make bilateral investments in the petroleum sector and also take up joint projects in third country.
On whether India will raise the issue of levying of taxes by UAE to offset impact of falling oil prices as its tax has hit Indian people also, Wadhwa said every country has to manage its economy and that it was an internal matter of UAE.
But he said welfare of Indians usually comes up in the discussions and if the specific issue is mentioned, then it may talk about their difficulties.
He said UAE has initiated a Mars mission for 2020 and India can assist that country. He said ISRO was willing to help UAE in the mision.