President Pratibha Patil tonight arrived here in the UAE capital on the first leg of her visit to the Gulf country and Syria aimed at exploring ways to further expand trade and investment ties and enhance bilateral cooperation especially in the petroleum sector.
"There are no irritants in India's relations with both the countries and the visit will help invigorate the dialogue with the leadership in UAE and Syria and bring momentum in ties," Patil told reporters on board the President's special aircraft.
Both the UAE and Syria support the Indian position on Kashmir issue and back New Delhi's quest for a permanent seat in UN Security Council.
"My visit will, I am confident, reaffirm India's interest to strengthen ties with countries in these regions, which are a part of our extended neighbourhood," Patil said in New Delhi before leaving on her nine-day tour that will also take her to Dubai and Sharjah in the UAE and later to Damascus.
She noted that India has enjoyed historic, warm, friendly and multifaceted relations with the UAE.
Patil, who is visiting the UAE at the invitation of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, will be meeting the top leaders in the country on a whole range of issues aimed at further consolidating bilateral ties.
"I look forward to my discussions with His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, as well as other dignitaries, so that we can look at ways and means to further strengthen our bilateral ties in order to realise the full potential that exists between our two friendly countries."
Accompanied by a business delegation, the President would be addressing the captains of industry in the UAE.
Patil said bilateral trade which stood at a modest figure of around $80 million in the early seventies, is today valued at $3 billion, which makes the UAE one of our leading trade partners.
While emphasizing the possibilities of further expanding our trade, Patil said she will highlight the tremendous scope for investing in India's infrastructure.
"Our fast growing stable economy with its strong fundamentals, makes India an attractive investment destination," she said.
With UAE being one of our leading suppliers of crude oil, it plays an important role in the energy security of India, Patil said continued co-operation in this sector is important.
The highlight of the President's visit to the UAE will be launching of an Indian Workers Resource Centre designed to provide a 24-hour helpline and counselling services to workers from the country who are in distress.
The UAE has 1.75 million Indian expatriates, a major chunk of the 5 million Indians in the Gulf region.
Patil would inaugurate the new premises of the Indian Islamic Centre in Abu Dhabi.
In the second segment of her tour from November 26, the President will be visiting Syria with which India enjoys traditionally friendly ties. Damascus has been actively cooperating with India in the UN and NAM.
Minister of State for Power Bharatsinh Solanki and three MPs are accompanying the President.