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Modi breaks protocol to greet UAE Crown Prince at airport

Modi breaks protocol to greet UAE Crown Prince at airport

NEW DELHI: United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrived here on Tuesday as chief guest for India’s Jan 26 Republic Day parade. In a departure from protocol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi received him at the airport.

Mr Modi gave Al Nahyan a warm hug at the tarmac, seen as a signal of developing proximity that could be linked to Pakistan’s refusal to the UAE to join the war in Yemen. The parade usually showcases nuclear missiles aimed at Pakistan and China as part of India’s surging military hardware, with growing contribution from Israel.

Reports said Al Nahyan, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces, is expected to give boost to bilateral ties in the key areas of trade and security.

“It is also significant given that UAE is a close ally of Pakistan, whom India is trying to diplomatically isolate over the issue of cross-border terrorism,” the Indian Express reported.

It said during Mr Modi’s visit in August in 2015, the two countries had condemned efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries, or to use terrorism as instrument of state policy.

They had also decided to strengthen their cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism, the Express said.

There are also more than 2.6 million Indians in the UAE and their annual remittance is estimated to be around $14 billion. India had previously hosted the King of Saudi Arabia as chief guest though he refused to pay homage at Mahatma Gandhi’s shrine because it violated his knowledge of Islam.

The first chief guest when the military parade moved to the current Rajpath promenade in 1955 was Pakistan’s Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad. Pakistan’s Agriculture Minister Rana Abdul Hamid was the chief guest in 1965, just before the countries went to war. China’s Marshall Ye Jianying was the chief guest in 1958. President Barrack Obama became the first American leader to attend the ceremony.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2017

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