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Riyadh getting ready to welcome the Indian Prime Minister

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 05:00:31 PM, News Desk

 Hundreds of Saudi and Indian flags flutter on the streets of Riyadh to welcome Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

(Photo: Ahmed Fathi/Arab News)

Malegaon: Hundreds of Saudi and Indian flags have decorated the streets of Riyadh since Tuesday to welcome Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reports the leading Saudi daily Arab News.


Dr. Manmohan Singh will begin his three-day official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Saturday.


According to the report, senior Saudi and Indian government officials are busy in making elaborate arrangements to host the Indian political and business establishments as well as fine-tuning several draft accords to be signed during the visit, the first by an Indian premier since 1982.


“The visit of Prime Minister Singh, which takes place four years after the visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to New Delhi, will boost Saudi-Indo relations further and change the dynamics of our strategic ties,” Arab News quoted Saudi Ambassador to India Faisal H. Trad.


Trad, who is in Saudi capital Riyadh to prepare for Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit, said that some 11 agreements had been finalized for signing during the visit of the Indian premier, who will be accompanied by ministers and officials.


“History will be made in Saudi-Indo relations when Singh holds talks with King Abdullah,” said Ambassador Trad.


Referring to major agreements to be signed during the visit, Trad pointed out that an agreement to promote media cooperation involving the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) and the Press Trust of India (PTI) would also be signed.


This will be in addition to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to be signed by the Naif Arab University for Security Sciences (NAUSS) and India’s Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses.


Another MOU will be signed to promote cultural cooperation by organizing cultural weeks and events in respective countries.


Asked about any other accord that is being drafted for signature during Singh’s visit, Ambassador Trad said that other agreements such as an extradition treaty and an agreement to facilitate the transfer of sentenced prisoners had been reported in the Saudi and Indian media.


The visit, he said, will also boost cooperation in education, economy and the manpower sectors.


“The Saudi mission in New Delhi alone issues 600,000 visas every year to Indian nationals for visits and employment. I am not including Haj visas which amount to another 170,000,” said Trad.


“There are 365 recruitment agencies listed with our embassy in New Delhi, besides 400 in Mumbai,” he said.


On the trade front, he said that there was barely any crude import by India from Saudi Arabia before 2006. India used to import oil from the UAE, but now Saudi Arabia has edged past the UAE to become the biggest supplier of crude to India, he noted.


Some 500,000-600,000 barrels of crude a day are exported from Saudi Arabia to India, he added. He pointed out that Indian manufacturers and suppliers could now be big winners, since a Saudi Aramco procurement subsidiary had also opened an office in India.


“This will make it easier for Indian manufacturers to provide materials and equipment to Saudi Aramco for use in its industrial facilities and massive construction projects,” he said. Thus it will boost Indian exports to Saudi Arabia in a big way, he added.


Meanwhile, a media office has been set up by the Indian Embassy at the Riyadh Palace Hotel to help local journalists and take care of the needs of the newspersons accompanying the premier.







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