As India, Israel, US and the UAE form an important block—I2U2, New Delhi sees it as an opportunity to secure its bilateral interests in the Gulf as well. With the first virtual summit of the I2U2—‘I’ for India and Israel and ‘U’ for the US and UAE— set to take place next month, India is ready with its strategy to focus on strengthening bilateral ties with the key Gulf nation—UAE which is among the top oil exporters to New Delhi. Sources told The Daily Guardian Review that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interactions with the UAE leadership will be in a totally different format and forum, it will be a greater opportunity for the Indian premier to use the occasion to upgrade its bilateral ties with the UAE.” “Even though the summit will be held virtually, PM Modi will have enough opportunity to set the stage to firm up much better and stronger alliances with the UAE, as there will be more in person meetings between both the leaders in future on the sidelines of the forum I2U2 which is being viewed as a second Quad,” sources added. PM Modi is already visiting the UAE by the end of this month (June) amid the backdrop of diplomatic tensions between India and the Gulf countries. However, PM Modi will be working hard to iron out the differences.
Undeniably, PM Modi has been successful in cultivating a deep strategic alliance among the Gulf nations by dint of hard work over the last few years. The Prophet row has definitely caused a rift in the bilateral ties which need to be repaired as soon as possible. Sources said that PM Modi is not missing even a single occasion to see that the divide between India and the Islamic nations gets bridged at the earliest. “The forum like I2U2 is definitely a good opportunity for India to improve ties with the UAE, thereby reaching out to the entire Gulf,” officials say.
In fact, UAE is an influential member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the other partners of which are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. “So, the importance of the UAE is understandable in view of this. PM Modi is eager to smooth things,” diplomats say.
At the same time, India will also be having a good opportunity to improve ties with Israel which is New Delhi’s trusted defence partner. US President Joe Biden will host a virtual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during his visit to West Asia from July 13 to 16. The US’ aim is to re-energise and revitalise American alliances across the world. Sources said that the discussions will be focused on the food security crisis and other areas of cooperation.
In October 2021, a meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries took place when External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was visiting Israel. However, it was then called the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’. This time, the meeting will take place at the level of heads of government/state.