Syria seeks India help in IT

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Damascus, Oct 21 (UNI) Describing India as a model for developing countries, Syria Prime Minister Mohammed Naji el-Otri has sought New Delhi's help and assistance in Information Technology(IT) and other priority sectors to help her country achieve excellence in high-tech areas.

''We want to learn from India's advancement in software technology, industrial development and technical skills to take Syria to a path of development in these sectors,'' the Prime Minister said while replying to a question on the Indo-Syrian ties.

He said Syria President Basar Al Assad's visit to India in May this year has opened new avenues of cooperation between the two countries. India can help in oil exploration, communication and IT areas. India is considered highly advanced country in the world in the software technology.

Syria Tourism Minister Dr Saadallah Agha Al Kalaa, who was present there, said his country was also keen to cooperate with India in the tourism sector. He also invited his Indian counterpart Ambika Soni to visit Syria. ''We are ready to set up joint ventures in this sector with Indian partners,'' he said.

Many Arab business from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar have decided to set up hotels in various parts of the country.

Similarly many historical places are being developed with the assistance of foreign investors.

He said thousands of Indian, particularly pilgrim tourists, visit Damasacus and other historical and religious cities of Syria every year. ''We are eager to encourage more and more Indians to visit Syria, where many Muslims and Christians religious places are located,'' Dr Kalaa added.

Dr Kalaa said his government had relaxed visa rules for the pilgrim tourists. Visas could be provided to the people on arrival if the visit was arranged through tour operators. He said tourism emerged as a major foreign exchange earner for his country. The number of tourists coming to Syria had doubled in the past five years.

Asked whether political instability in the region creates problems in projecting Syria as a major tourist destination, the Minister said it had not affected tourism industry. However, he admitted that most of the tourists from the Arab region, but gradually tourists from Europe and Asian countries were also showing interest to visit Syria because of its rich history and culture.


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