UAE envoy Dr Ahmed Albanna delivering a lecture on ‘The Flourishing Relationship between the Republic of India and the United Arab Emirate at IIT, Delhi on Monday
By Naz Asghar
March 18, 2019
New Delhi: Stressing that UAE wants India and Pakistan to sort out their differences through peaceful means, the gulf nation’s Ambassador to India Ahmed Al Banna on Monday said his country played a significant role in deescalation of the situation following the Pulwama terror attack.
“We have played an important role in reducing tensions between India and Pakistan. On the day of major escalation our Crown Prince spoke to PM Modi and PM Imran Khan. Our role was to try and sort out differences peacefully,” Al Banna said answering questions after he delivered a lecture on India-UAE relationship at the IIT, Delhi here.
The envoy said his country’s role was to encourage both the countries to sort out their differences in a peaceful manner.
He, however, clarified while replying to another question that the efforts by the Crown Prince to defuse tension between the two countries should not be taken as ”mediation”. For mediation, ”there has to be a request from both sides. But we tried to defuse the tension because of our special relationship.”
Earlier, at the height of the tension between the two countries, United States President Donald Trump had indicated that his country worked to defuse the tensions, saying that he had spoken to both the sides and “expects some decent news”.
The UAE envoy said his country had a very strong anti-terror cooperation with India as it believed that terror was not justified in any case. His country was working with India both at the bilateral and international fora to ”stop this nonsense of killing the innocent,” he said.
”Today Islam has been hijacked by terrorists. They have hijacked the purity of Islam,” he said, adding that ”UAE is against radicalism and terrorism in the name of whatever…”
The UAE envoy answering other questions expressed unhappiness over the current civil aviation policy of India under which the number of flights to and from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah was too little to accommodate the number of people wanting to travel between the two countries.
The UAE wants to revise the 2007 air services agreement and four sectoral pacts to allow the increas in flights which are1068 at present.
” We have an open sky policy, while India has put the limit of 5000 Km, so the countries outside that limit have to face restriction,” he said.
He underlined that today Indians flying to countries other than his were increasingly using UAE airport.
”May be the Indian government was not opening their skies for us because of the lobbying from their civil aviation industry, ”he added.
Dr Al Banna also announced that his country planned to further relax visas for Indians and urged India too to do the same with UAE nationals visiting India.
The envoy also expressed dissatisfaction over the business atmosphere in India. ”Not happy” was his answer when asked whether he found the investment environment satisfactory in India.
He, however, added that ”we have reached a goal in our relationship, and we set a new goal to achieve.”
The envoy said a new chapter in UAE’s relationship with India started with the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the country in 2015 and there were four pillars of this relationship–the air services agreement, the double taxation avoidance agreement and the on top of it all the strategic partnership agreement.
The trade relation between the two countries have been deepening ever since they established diplomatic ties in early 1970s. From 100 million dollar in 1975, the bilateral trade has gone up to 75 billion dollar today, and the UAE also accounts for 8 per cent of India’s oil exports, he pointed out.
Describing ”UAE as a success story, a modern country, very different from the other Arab countries,” the envoy urged Indian to visit the country to ”see for themselves.”
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