Signifying the importance India attaches to the royal visit, the first by a Saudi king since 1955, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh broke protocol to receive the Saudi monarch at the air force base.
In his recent press statements, King Abdullah emphasized Saudi Arabia's desire to strengthen its longstanding ties with India. "We are ready to meet India's growing energy requirements," the king told NDTV channel.
Abdullah flew in from Beijing with a 250-member delegation on the second leg of a four-nation tour that will also take him to Malaysia and Pakistan. He will be the chief guest at India's Republic Day parade tomorrow. As a beaming Manmohan Singh shook hands with King Abdullah at the airport, one could sense the new warmth in New Delhi's ties with the most influential Arab country in the Gulf and home to 1.6 million Indian expatriate workers.
King Abdullah and Premier Manmohan will hold official talks today after a ceremonial reception at the presidential palace. The talks would focus on long-term security cooperation that will include fighting transnational crime and terrorism and promoting energy security.
India and Saudi Arabia will sign three agreements during the royal visit: a memorandum of understanding on combating terrorism, a double-taxation avoidance convention, and an agreement for promoting bilateral investment. The Indian Cabinet last week gave its approval for signing of the treaties.
"India and Saudi Arabia have close, friendly, deep-rooted and multifaceted ties," the Indian Foreign Ministry stated, adding that King Abdullah's visit would substantially strengthen bilateral ties.
Energy cooperation and bilateral trade would be the focus of talks in New Delhi. Energy-hungry India is looking to Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil producer, to help fuel its booming economy.
The delegation accompanying the king consists of a large number of prominent businessmen seeking to explore deepening bilateral trade and commerce.
Indo-Saudi trade exceeded SR37 billion in 2005, Saudi Ambassador to New Delhi Saleh Al-Ghamdi said. India is Saudi Arabia's fourth largest trading partner, with Saudi exports, mainly crude, amounting to SR30.8 billion and Indian exports crossing SR6.2 billion. There are 106 Indian joint ventures in Saudi Arabia and over 50 Saudi joint ventures in India.
King Abdullah later received the Saudi civil society delegation concurrently visiting India to improve ties between the two peoples. He praised the delegation's efforts in projecting the true picture of Saudi society to their Indian counterparts. During the past week, members of the delegation, which included businessmen, journalists, academics, intellectuals and artists, visited Indian universities and research centers, spoken to media and met with general public, giving a good impression about the Kingdom's cultural, economic and educational progress and other achievements.
Source: Arab NewsLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16