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India, UAE hold first strategic dialogue

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NEW DELHI (PTI): India and the UAE held their first strategic dialogue during which they finalised the Strategic Cooperation Agreement aimed at expanding bilateral cooperation to new key areas including energy, defence and security that will be signed during the visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi next week.

During the dialogue on Friday, co-chaired by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs M J Akbar and his UAE counterpart Anwar Gargash, the two sides "agreed on a number of new initiatives to further strengthen the bilateral cooperation and on signing of fresh instruments of cooperation", External Affairs Ministry said.

Noting that the first dialogue took place pursuant to the decision to elevate the relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the exchange of the visits at the highest level between India and the UAE in August 2015 and February 2016, MEA in a release said the two sides were represented by strong delegations drawn from a number of relevant ministries and departments.

"During the meeting, the two sides discussed a number of issues ranging from cooperation in the areas of trade and investments to expanding the bilateral cooperation to new areas under the strategic partnership, inter alia in the areas of energy security and renewable energy, defence and security, electronics & information technology and space.

"The meeting provided a timely opportunity to prepare for the forthcoming State visit of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi as the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations, 2017," the Ministry said.

This is the second visit of the Crown Prince to India who travelled here in February 2016. He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including ministers, senior officials and captains of industry.

During the visit, the two sides will also explore ways to strengthen trade ties. The two countries have been among each other's top trading partners with a well-balanced bilateral trade of about USD 50 billion in 2015-16.

"UAE is among the top investors in India in terms of foreign direct investments. It contributes significantly to India's energy security and is the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to India in 2015-16," MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said.

Noting that there was about 2.6 million strong and vibrant Indian community forms the largest expatriate group in UAE, he had also said, "Their positive and well-appreciated contribution in the development of their host country has been an important anchor of our excellent bilateral engagement."

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