India, Syria ink three pacts:discuss MEPP, Iraq, Afghanistan

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New Delhi, Jun 18 (UNI) India and Syria today signed three agreements on strengthening cooperation in trade, economy and agriculture and held wide-ranging discussions on the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) and the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad who arrived here yesterday on his maiden visit to India, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today for more than an hour and discussed the entire gamut of bilateral, regional and global situation.

The visit to India by a Syrian President comes after 30 years even though both countries have exchanged visits in between at various levels.

After the talks, the two countries signed an Agreement for Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and a Work Plan under Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Cooperation in Agriculture and Allied Sectors for 2008-2009.

The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement aims at avoiding and reducing the burden of double taxation on the same tax payer in the two countries.

The Agreements are also expected to stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services from India to Syria and vice versa, while providing tax stability to the residents of both the nations.

The Agreement on Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investment and the Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to taxes on income were signed by Mr Mukherjee and Dr. Amer Housni Lutfi, Syria's Minister of Economy.

The Work Plan under MoU in the field of Agriculture and Allied Sectors for 2008-2009 was signed by Mr Ahmed Arnous, Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister and India's Agriculture Secretary Dr. P K Mishra.

The Syrian President, who is accompanied by a high-powered delegation on his four-day State visit to India, said Damascus had a lot of expectations from a ''rising India'' and looked forward to increasing trade and economic ties with this country.

''We have a lot of things to talk about. There are a lot of expectations from a rising India,'' he told reporters after inspecting the guard of honour at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

He said that during his four-day visit to India, he would hold discussions on strengthening trade and economic ties.

Before his talks with the Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee called on Dr Assad.

The Syrian President also addressed a business luncheon meeting organised by CII/ASSOCHAM/FICCI.

He will call on President Pratibha Patil in the evening.

The President will host a banquet in honour of the visiting dignitary.

UNI RB PK NS1432

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