India and the Untied Arab Emirates inked a trade deal on Tuesday to connect the subcontinent with Europe via ports in the Middle East.
The deal was announced during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Abu Dhabi, where he met Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
"This would build on previous understandings and cooperation on this matter and foster India and the UAE cooperation furthering regional connectivity," India's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Sheikh Mohammed said "our region is going through a difficult time but because of our relationship with [India], we are building a lot of hope and looking forward to a future with India that is on par with our ambitions."
What are the details of the deal?
The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor is a proposed ship-to-rail transit network that was first touted on the sidelines of last year's G20 summit in New Delhi.
The original plan was for the trade route to extend from India across the Arabian Sea to the UAE, continuing through Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel on to Europe.
However, Tuesday's announcement of an "intergovernmental framework agreement" did not mention any countries other than India and the UAE.
The plan has previously received support from United States and the European Union.
Modi to open major Hindu temple
Modi's trip to the UAE — his third in eight months — will last two days.
On Wednesday, he is due to inaugurate the region's largest Hindu temple and address an estimated 60,000 Indian expatriates at a community event.
Some 3.5 million Indian nationals live in the UAE, more than any other Gulf state.
zc/lo (Reuters, AP, AFP)