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India-UAE close ties helps Michel extradition in days rather than in years: Envoy

India-UAE close ties helps Michel extradition in days rather than in years: Envoy

Weeks after alleged AgustaWestland chopper deal middleman Christian Michel was extradited to India from the UAE, the Gulf country's envoy here said due to the closeness in security ties sometimes things that do not happen in a year, are done in one day. UAE Ambassador to India Ahmed Al Banna, at a press conference here, said the two countries have a robust security collaboration and have signed an agreement for it as well.

Asked how the extradition of Michel was done within days after he had said in New Delhi that the process may take time, Al Banna said: "The very important strategic ties and the personal touch in the relationship...that sometimes make things, that doesn't happen in one year, happen in one day." Michel, 57, was brought to India in December following his extradition by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in connection with the chopper deal case.

He is one of the three middlemen -- the two others Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa -- being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in the case. Michel has denied the charges. The UAE envoy, in his remarks, asserted that India-UAE bilateral relations were at "its peak" with several high-level visits from both sides reflecting the closeness in ties.

Asked Pakistan and the UAE signed a USD 3 billion bailout package and its impact on ties with India, Al Banna said: "Our relationship with India is not determined by our relationship with anybody else. India's relationship with the UAE is also not determined by their relationship with anybody else. We evaluate our relationship with our dealings." On the upgradation of the bilateral air services agreement, he said there were "some hiccups" and lobbying from Indian carriers, but asserted that the ultimate goal was public benefits.

He said that the understanding reached during talks when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited the UAE last month was that there will be a new round of negotiations "very soon". Asked why UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan had not visited India, the envoy said he was not in good health, but stressed that India inviting the crown prince to be the chief guest in 2017 had shown the importance attached to ties.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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