Syrian president to visit India

June 14th, 2008 - 9:50 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be in India on a five-day state visit from Tuesday to further boost the strong ties that exist between the two countries. He will be accompanied by his wife, Asma al-Bashar, and a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, Economy and Trade Minister Amer Husni Lutfi and Minister of Telecommunication and Technology Ehmad Sabouni.

The Syrian president and his delegation will also visit Agra and Bangalore.

His visit is part of the high-level interaction and engagement that India has with all the important members of the Arab world. Though New Delhi’s ties with Israel have grown over the past decade, it has maintained its traditional and strong ties with all key Arab countries.

An agreement on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of agriculture and allies sector will be signed during his visit.

A statement issued by the external affairs ministry Saturday said President Bashar al- Assad will hold wide ranging talks with the Indian leadership including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

President Pratibha Patil will host a banquet for the visiting president and his delegation at Rashtrapati Bhawan during his stay in New Delhi. He will also hold meetings with Vice President Hamid Ansari, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

A separate meeting is also scheduled between the Syrian president and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.

India’s decision to launch a “spy satellite” for Israel earlier this year had caused concern in many parts of the Arab world. India will take the opportunity of President al-Assad’s visit to also offer Syria its cooperation in the area of information technology and take him on a tour of the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore.

According to the statement, the Syrian president who has a “deep interest” in IT will visit the National Informatics Centre and later visit a few more IT and biotechnology establishments in Bangalore, India’s IT hub.

The Karnataka governor will host a banquet for him during his visit to Bangalore.

Before leaving Delhi for Bangalore, the Syrian president will take his wife and other members of his delegation to see the Taj Mahal in Agra.

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