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India, UAE decide to boost defence ties

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Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman shakes hands with UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs (MSDA) Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, at South Block in New Delhi, Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018. A PTI Photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): India and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday agreed to deepen their defence cooperation in a range of areas including military-to-military exchanges, training of personnel and defence production, officials said.

The decision was taken during talks between Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the UAE's Minister of State for Defence Affairs Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi Al Falacy.

The defence ministry said the ministers undertook a review of bilateral defence cooperation and deliberated upon measures to further enhance bilateral exchanges.

"They recognized that deeper bilateral defence cooperation has been emphasized by the leadership of both countries as a central element in the expanded India and UAE strategic partnership," it said in a statement.

Officials said two sides discussed a range of issues and decided to enhance cooperation in areas of military-to military exchanges, training and tie-ups between defence industries of the two countries.

The UAE minister will visit Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) at Bengaluru on Wednesday.

The ties between India and the UAE are on an upswing.

In January last year, the two countries signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement with an aim to deepen defence and security cooperation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the UAE in August 2015, while Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan had come to New Delhi in February 2016 and in January last year.

The volume of two-way annual trade between the two countries is around USD 53 billion. The UAE is India's third largest trading partner. For the UAE, India has been the largest trading partner.

The UAE is among the top investors in India in terms of foreign direct investments. It contributes significantly to India's energy security and was the fifth-largest supplier of crude oil to India in 2016-17.

About 2.6 million-strong and vibrant Indian community forms the largest expatriate group in the UAE.

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