PM to leave for Saudi Arabia today

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New Delhi, Feb 27 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will leave for Saudi Arabia today on a three-day visit at the invitation of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

During his three-day visit from February 27 to March 1, Dr Singh will be accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur.

Other members of the Prime Minister's delegation will include Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora, Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and a number of senior officials.

This visit comes four years after the landmark visit of King Abdullah to India. He was the Chief Guest at India's Republic Day in 2006.

India and Saudi Arabia enjoy traditionally close and friendly relations based on historical linkages that date back for millennia, and have deepened and diversified over time.

The visit provides an opportunity for the two leaders to review bilateral relations and also to discuss regional and global issues in the spirit of the "Delhi Declaration" which was signed in 2006, and reinforcing the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Several agreements and Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) representing a broad range of cooperation in the areas of Security, Science and Technology, Culture, Media etc. will be signed which will further enrich and institutionalize the strategic objectives and cooperation between India and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Prime Minister has also been invited to address the Shoura Council, which is a unique honour bestowed upon select dignitaries.

Saudi Arabia is an important trading and energy security partner. The bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia during 2008-2009 exceeded US$ 25 billion.

Many Indian companies are active in various sectors. A 25-member CEOs delegation is also visiting and will have interactions with their Saudi counterparts to establish mutually beneficial business partnerships.

The Prime Minister will address the captains of Saudi businesses and industry during his visit.

During the visit, Dr Singh will have substantive discussions with King Abdullah and several Saudi Ministers are also expected to call on the Prime Minister.

Dr Singh will also be interacting with a cross section of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia, which numbers nearly 1.8 million at present, and whose role and contribution for the development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is widely appreciated in Saudi Arabia. (ANI)

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