NEW DELHI, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, attend an official reception hosted by Pranab Mukherjee, President of India, in honor of Highness's visit to India.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed is on a three-day state visit to India where he has been invited by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend India's 68th Republic Day celebrations as Chief Guest.

The official reception on Wednesday night started with playing the National Anthem of the United Arab Emirates and India. Following that, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed shook hand with Indian leaders, including Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in addition to senior government officials, ministers , members of parliament and business leaders. Honorable Pranab Mukherjee, for his part, shook hands with members of the UAE delegation which is accompanying His Highness on his state visit.

President Pranab Mukherjee hosted a banquet in honor of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the accompanying delegation.

In a speech he delivered at the event, President Mukherjee said: "I warmly recall your visit to India nearly a year ago, and I am happy to receive you once again this time as our honored Chief Guest as we celebrate India's 68th Republic Day."

He added: "Your State Visit is a testimony to our enduring bonds and time-test friendship. Our engagement today is driven by remarkable similarities in the aspirations of our two peoples and the ideals on which our two nations are based."

He said India's relations with the UAE were deeply rooted in history. "We have, in recent times, expanded our ties into a wide-ranging relationship of political, economic, defense and security cooperation. It's a matter of immense satisfaction that we have, today, signed a framework agreement on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and that we both desire to develop it to its maximum potential."

President Mukherjee said that India values the UAE as a trusted partner in India's energy security, welcoming the UAE's participation in establishing India's Strategic Petroleum Reserves. He added: "We seek a deeper energy partnership with you -- in the form of joint ventures in refineries and petrochemicals projects in India, participation of our companies in upstream projects in our country and joint exploration in third countries."

On bilateral relations between India and the UAE, he said: "It's a matter of satisfaction that even as we strengthen our ongoing engagement and cooperation, our governments are currently exploring new avenues to expand it. Joint defense production, space and renewable energy have been identified as priorities as we proceed."

In conclusion, he said: "Your Highness, our people value the friendship of the United Arab Emirates. We deeply appreciate your commitment to enhancing our bilateral cooperation across the board- and the personal contributions of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, in strengthening our relations to a close comprehensive partnership. We wish His Highness, the President, good health and a long and happy life."

For his part, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed delivered a speech at the official event. He said: "Let me first express my deep gratitude to the Indian government and the Indian people for their warm welcome and generous hospitality. In like manner, I'd like to say that I was deeply touched by the kind invitation to share these historic Republic Day celebrations with you. If anything, this invitation is a reflection of the special relationship that our two countries enjoy."

On UAE-India relations, he said: "Our discussions were also held in the same spirit of warmth and friendship, which reflected positively on their outcome and left me with a great satisfaction about the direction our relationship. It's also refreshing to see how the Indian leadership is keen on strengthening relations with the UAE, which makes me even more confident about the prospects of the Strategic Partnership Agreement that we signed."

He further added: "Fostering our relationship with India is a strategic choice for the UAE under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, especially in light of our identical views on regional and international issues. No doubt, our Strategic Partnership Agreement will make our relationship stronger at the political, security and economic levels, including mutual investments"

His Highness continued to praise the strong relations between the two nations: "As never before, our relationship has reached impressive heights which bring me great satisfaction. In fact, I dare say that I look forward to seeing our relationship reach even more towering heights. I believe that the UAE with its unique development experience and Islamic and Arab background and India with its inimitable and successful development experience and its unique model of coexistence, can work together to push for peace and stability in Asia and the Middle East. This makes me even more optimistic about the future of our relationship."

The reception was attended by H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy National Security Advisor, H.H. Sheikh Dhiyab bin Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Dr. Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, and a number of senior officials.

From the Indian side, it was attended by a group of ministers and senior officials.

Source: Emirates News Agency