UAE foreign minister’s India visit boosts ties

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in New Delhi on July 9, 2019. (WAM photo)
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in New Delhi on July 9, 2019. (WAM photo)
Updated 09 July 2019

UAE foreign minister’s India visit boosts ties

  • Both consider enhancing energy security amid Iran sanctions
  • The UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner and fourth-largest energy supplier

NEW DELHI: The UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Tuesday, concluding a three-day official visit.

The two discussed regional issues including terrorism, energy security and brewing tensions in the Middle East. “We talked at length about further improving economic and cultural relations between India and the UAE,” Modi tweeted after the meeting.

The Indian Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said Modi had “reiterated his strong commitment to work with the UAE leadership to take the relationship to higher levels in all spheres of cooperation, including in trade and economy, energy, tourism and contact.

“The foreign minister stated that India-UAE relations have never been better. He also outlined the UAE’s vision to enhance bilateral cooperation for the mutual benefit of the people of both countries and for peace, prosperity and stability in the region.”

Sheikh Abdullah also met his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and discussed a wide range of bilateral issues.

“The two discussed issues related to trade and investment, defense and security and energy security,” said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

Sheikh Abdullah’s visit comes at a time when the issue of energy security is high on New Delhi’s agenda after the imposition of US sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

The UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner and fourth-largest energy supplier. Modi visited the Gulf nation twice in his first term in the office — during his first visit in 2015 the countries upgraded their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

The UAE invited India as its guest to the 46th Council of Foreign Ministers meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which it chaired in Abu Dhabi in March.

It is home to a 3.5 million-strong Indian community, the largest in the Gulf region.

New Delhi-based West Asia expert Zakir Hussain said: “Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed’s visit is the first interaction between the Modi regime since it returned to power in May 2019 and the UAE.

“The visit comes at a time when India is looking for a predictable source of energy supply after the disruption of the oil supply from Iran.

“Modi’s recent landslide victory in the election puts his government under great pressure to create more jobs and I am sure New Delhi must have discussed ways and means to expedite UAE investment in India.”


Britain’s Johnson plays down Brexit breakthrough hopes

Updated 13 October 2019

Britain’s Johnson plays down Brexit breakthrough hopes

  • EU leaders will meet on Thursday and Friday for a summit held under the pressures of the October 31 Brexit deadline

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson played down hopes Sunday of a breakthrough in his last-ditch bid to strike an amicable divorce deal with the European Union.
Negotiators went behind closed doors for intensive talks in Brussels after Johnson outlined a new set of proposals to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Thursday.
They have very little time left to succeed.
EU leaders will meet on Thursday and Friday for a summit held under the pressures of the October 31 Brexit deadline just two weeks away.
The 27 would ideally like to have a full proposal to vote on by then.
But the sides are trying to achieve in a few days what they had failed to in the more than three years since Britons first voted to leave the European Union after nearly 50 years.
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier called the weekend negotiations “constructive” enough to keep going for another day.
“A lot of work remains to be done,” Barnier stressed in a statement to EU ambassadors.
“Discussions at technical level will continue (Monday).”
Downing Street said Johnson also told his cabinet to brace for a cliff-hanger finish.
He reiterated “that a pathway to a deal could be seen but that there is still a significant amount of work to get there and we must remain prepared to leave on October 31,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
Johnson rose to power in July on a promise not to extend Brexit for a third time this year — even for a few weeks.
Breaking that pledge could come back to haunt him in an early general election that most predict for the coming months.
Johnson is under parliamentary orders to seek a extension until January 31 of next year if no deal emerges by Saturday.
He has promised to both follow the law and get Britain out by October 31 — a contradiction that might end up being settled in court.
Outgoing EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker said British politics were getting more difficult to decipher than the riddle of an “Egyptian sphinx.”
“If the British ask for more time, which they probably will not, it would in my view be a historical nonsense to refuse them,” Juncker told Austria’s Kurier newspaper.
Ireland’s Varadkar hinted on Thursday that he could support the talks running on up to the October 31 deadline if a deal seemed within reach.
The few details that have leaked out suggest a compromise around the contentious Irish border issue Britain’s Northern Ireland partially aligned with EU customs rules.
Whether such a fudge suits both Brussels and the more ardent Brexit backers in parliament who must still approve a deal should become clearer by the end of the week.
Britain will only avoid a chaotic breakup with its closest trading partners if the agreement is also passed by the UK parliament — something it has failed to do three times.
Johnson heads a minority government and must rely on the full backing of not only his own fractured Conservatives but also Northern Ireland’s small Democratic Unionist Party.
DUP’s parliamentary leader Nigel Dodds warned Johnson that “Northern Ireland must remain entirely in the customs union of the United Kingdom” and not the EU.
“And Boris Johnson knows it very well,” Dodds told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper.
The comments do not necessarily rule out DUP support.
UK media are presenting Johnson’s mooted compromise as a “double customs” plan that could be interpreted to mean that Northern Ireland is leaving EU rules.
Yet details are still under discussion and the prime minister’s allies are urging lawmakers to give the British leader a chance.
Main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn signalled Sunday that he would wait for the outcome of the EU summit before trying to force an early election.
But he added that there was “a strong possibility” that those polls would come before the Christmas break.