Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook his second visit of 2018 in early February by traveling to Oman, the UAE, and Palestine. The four day-visit, which was from February 9 to 12, was Modi’s fifth visit to the Gulf and Western Asia since 2015. During this visit, several agreements were signed that would go a long way in strengthening relations between India and these nations.
The Prime Minister made a brief stopover in Amman, the capital of Jordan, as a part of his three nation tour. Modi described his meeting with the king of Jordan, Abdullah II, as wonderful and stated that it would further strengthen relations between the two nations. This is the first visit to Jordan by an Indian PM in 30 years.
The Prime Minister held wide-ranging talks with the King of Jordan over a number of issues such as the role of Jordan in protecting Christian and Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, the Palestinian cause, etc.
On February 9, Narendra Modi landed in Palestine, becoming the first Indian prime minister to visit this region. The Indian PM met Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the State of Palestine and the two leaders discussed ties between India and Palestine. Modi’s visit also saw the signing of six agreements worth $50 million. Among these was the setting up of a super specialty hospital, worth $30 million, in BeitSahur. One agreement was for the construction of a center for empowering women and one MOU for the procurement of machinery and equipment for the National Printing Press. Meanwhile, three agreements worth $5 million were signed in the education sector.
The United Arab Emirates
On February 10, Narendra Modi landed in the United Arab Emirates on a two-day visit. Wide-ranging talks were held between Modi and the top leadership of the UAE. The meeting saw the signing of a number of agreements which would play a crucial role in the strengthening of economic and political ties between the two countries. Prime Minister Modi met Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
India and the UAE have promised to boost commercial and economic relations in the fields of climate, energy and civil aviation. The two leaders were happy with the current level of bilateral trade between the two countries. In 2016-17, bilateral trade between India and the UAE stood at $53 billion. It was also agreed to expand access of good and services. The two countries also agreed to encourage trade in identified commodities and to examine the tariff, as well as non-tariff barriers.
Modi visited Oman on February 12 and his visit marked the signing of eight agreements. One of the key takeaways of Modi’s visit to Oman was the one related to the port of Duqm. The port is located in Oman and the MoU related to the fact that the Indian military vessels would get the services of Duqm and the dry dock for their maintenance.
Indian military vessels that were visiting Duqm in terms of services for using dry-dock for maintenance. An MoU was also signed between Oman’s National Defense College and India’s Indian Institute for Defence Studies. It was also agreed that cooperation should be enhanced in a bid to strengthen maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf Ocean regions. The two countries also touched upon the topic of terrorism and in an indirect reference called upon the international community to take action against organizations supporting terrorism. MoUs were also signed in the fields of health and tourism. In an attempt to package India as an attractive business destination, the Prime Minister also met the business heads of the country.
In all, Narendra Modi’s visit to these nations was quite fruitful and would open up new areas of cooperation between India and these countries.