PM Modi expected to make first foreign visit in 2022 to UAE

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to make his foreign trip in 2022 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to boost bilateral ties and to visit the Dubai Expo, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The dates for the visit are yet to be finalised and a lot will depend on the evolving Covid-19 situation, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

India’s four-storey pavilion at the Dubai Expo has emerged as a key attraction, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors. External affairs minister S Jaishankar visited the pavilion during a trip to the UAE this month.

Modi, who visited the UAE in 2015, 2018 and 2019, is expected to hold talks with the top leadership of the emirates.

India and the UAE are currently preparing for the third round of negotiations on a proposed comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) that they hope to finalise in the first quarter of next year.

There was no official word on the planned visit.

The government has focused on strengthening strategic and energy ties with several West Asian countries, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia. India, Israel, the UAE and the US recently held the first virtual meeting of their foreign ministers that focused on economic and business collaboration between the four countries. They are also working on holding the first in-person ministerial meeting of what has been described as a “new Quad”.

The new bloc is also expected to work on maritime security and infrastructure projects that leverage the strengths of the four countries. At the same time, India, Israel and the UAE have stepped up trilateral cooperation, especially after the signing of the Abraham Accords.

The UAE is home to more than three million Indian expatriates, the largest ethnic community in the emirates comprising professionals and blue-collar workers and their families.

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