Kashmir in backdrop as Modi visits France, UAE, Bahrain

New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) India will seek to reinvigorate its relations with three countries that backed India openly over the Kashmir issue — France, UAE and Bahrain, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the three this week.
France, which has backed India in the UN Security Council over its moves to bring in development into Kashmir through changing its status, is to be the first stop in the Prime Minister’s visit.
Modi also spoke with US President Donald Trump over phone on Monday, days after the UNSC backed India during the closed-door session on Kashmir on Friday. The US, France and Russia were for India’s stand on Kashmir.
Modi will pay a two-day official visit to France from August 22 during which he will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron with defence cooperation, nuclear energy, maritime cooperation and counter-terrorism high on the agenda.
India’s purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets for around Rs 60,000 crore has been concluded and the first of the jets is to arrive in India this year.
From France, the Prime Minister will proceed for bilateral visits to the UAE and Bahrain, and will return to the French city of Biarritz on August 25 for G7 Summit where India has been invited as a partner country. During his bilateral visit to France, Modi will also meet French Prime Minister Edouard Charles Philippe.
Modi and Macron are expected to focus on strengthening of their defence partnership, including future defence acquisitions, progress on setting up of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, and their priorities in the Indo-Pacific, Secretary, Economic Relations, T.S. Tirumurti said. Counter-terror cooperation, cyber security, the International Solar Alliance, and joint development projects are also on the table for discussion.
From France, Modi will visit the UAE that has openly backed India over its Kashmir move. He is to also go on a state visit to Bahrain, where the administration cracked down on Pakistanis holding an anti-India demonstration last week over Kashmir.
The UAE, which shares close bonds with India, had on August 6 said that the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter of India aimed at improving efficiency.
During his visit, Modi would meet the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to discuss bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest.
The Prime Minister would receive the Order of Zayed, the highest civil decoration of the UAE, which was conferred on him in April this year in recognition of his distinguished leadership for giving a big boost to bilateral relations between the two countries, an MEA statement said.
The Prime Minister would pay a state visit to Bahrain from August 24-25 in the first ever Prime Ministerial visit to the Gulf monarchy. Last week, the Bahrain government had cracked down on a protest carried out by Pakistanis and some Bangladeshis over the Indian government’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
The rally was conducted after Eid prayers in Bahrain. Tweeting about the action taken, Bahrain’s Interior Ministry had said that the local police had initiated legal proceedings against the protesters.
Last week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was given a cold shoulder when he called up Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to complain about India’s moves on Kashmir. King Hamad had told Imran Khan that Bahrain was closely analyzing the situation in Kashmir and that all issues should be resolved through negotiations.
During his visit, Modi would meet and hold talks with his Bahrain counterpart, Prince Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa discuss the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and also regional and international issues of mutual interest.
The Bahraini King would host a banquet dinner in honor of Modi.
On the final leg of his tour, Modi will be in Biarritz on the invitation of President Macron for the G-7 Summit as “Biarritz Partner” from August 25-26. During the Summit, he is expected to speak in the sessions on Environment, Climate, Oceans and Digital Transformation.
On the sidelines, Modi will be having bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries.

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