New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will pay a "stand alone visit" to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in early August, the first by an Indian prime minister to the Gulf nation in over three decades.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told IANS: "The PM's visit should be a stand alone visit and should not just be a transit visit."
This was in reference to early media reports that Manmohan Singh will visit Abu Dhabi either on his way to or back from the BRICS summit in South Africa last month. There were also some reports that the visit got cancelled because of sticky diplomatic issues with Abu Dhabi.
Khurshid said he has already visited the UAE to prepare for this important visit to a country that has over 1.75 million expatriate Indian workers.
"I spent some time in the UAE and had a meeting with the Crown Prince, had a meeting with the foreign minister and with all their senior officials. And we worked out a whole plan between now and the visit of the prime minister," Khurshid told IANS.
Asked when the visit was planned, he said: "I think after Ramzan (Ramadan)."
The holy month of Ramadan is slated to begin July 9 and continue for 30 days till Aug 7.
No Indian prime minister has visited the UAE after the 1981 trip by Indira Gandhi.
However, there have been presidential visits from India, with A.P.J. Abdul Kalam visiting the UAE in 2003 and Pratibha Patil in 2010.
UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan visited India in 1975
and 1992. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, came to India in 2011.
--Indo-Asian News service