Prime Minister Narendra Modi will go on board for a four-day state visit to India’s West Asian and Gulf counterparts. From February 9-12, he will be visiting Palestine, Oman and the UAE. The main point in the visit would be to discuss with the leaders of the countries “matters of mutual interest.”
The external affairs ministry in a release said,
“This will be the first-ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Palestine, and Modi’s second visit to UAE and first to Oman. During the visit, the prime minister will hold discussions on matters of mutual interest with their leaders, apart from participating in other events.”
How important is the visit to Palestine?
PM’s visit indicates the independence of India’s Israel and Palestine policies. The Prime Minister’s itinerary includes a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr Abbas had visited India last May when PM Modi assured him of India’s firm support towards the Palestinian cause. Modi hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from January 14-19 to mark 25 years of establishment of diplomatic relations. Significantly, this comes less than a month after the two leaders had discussed the Palestine issue.
After India-Israel talks, Vijay Gokhale, secretary (economic relations) in the external affairs ministry, said,
“What the two sides agreed, that our relationship was much larger than any single issue…that we need to look at it holistically and while we continue to talk to each other, our relationship is not determined by a single issue.”
What Dubai and Oman will be about?
Apart from holding talks with the leadership on key issues of defence, security and trade, the prime minister would be addressing the Sixth World Government Summit in Dubai, UAE. He has been accorded the “guest of honour” status there. Modi, who is on his second visit to the UAE, had previously visited in August 2015.
Lastly, Modi will visit Oman to focus on cooperation in trade and defence. Oman lies on the rim of the Indian Ocean region and is a member of the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) terms the bilateral trade and investment between India and Oman as robust and buoyant. During 2014-15, the bilateral trade saw a decline and resumed in 2015-16. The ministry reported an upward trend of 3.6 percent from $3.8 billion in 2015-16 to $4 billion in 2016-17.
Both UAE and Oman has a number of emigrant Indians working there and they send back valuable foreign funds. The UAE is a key source of energy for India as well as investments. PM Modi will also meet the Indian community in the UAE and Oman.