India, Saudi Arabia to hold talks Thursday

February 27th, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) India and Saudi Arabia will hold talks Thursday that are expected to provide a fresh impetus to burgeoning political and economic ties between the two countries and firm up their cooperation in combating terrorism. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will hold talks with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud Al-Faisal, who will be on a day-long visit to India Thursday, on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues, including ways of deepening cooperation in combating terrorism and strategic areas.

They are also likely to discuss likely dates for a visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the Gulf country, which is home to 1.6 million-strong Indian diaspora, later this year.

The two countries are likely to sign some economic and education-related pacts Thursday.

The Saudi foreign minister will call on Manmohan Singh and discuss with him a range of bilateral and global issues before he goes back to Riyadh Thursday evening.

Bilateral ties have been invigorated since Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud’s historic visit to India in 2006 that resulted in an ambitious vision document of bolstering India-Saudi strategic and economic relationship.

India-Saudi bilateral trade is growing and is estimated to be over $5.5 billion. Saudi Arabia is increasingly looking at India as a knowledge hub and wants to expand cooperation in technical, medical and education fields.

Last month, India and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to allow their airlines to add more flights between the two countries and ply on more routes.

Mukherjee was set to go to Riyadh last month, but could not go at the last moment. No official reasons were given for his visit’s cancellation.

India has been among the top five export destinations for Saudi Arabia, especially for petroleum and petroleum products.

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