India-Saudi Arabia to finalize defence cooperation pact
New Delhi: Saudi Arabia`s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will arrive here on Wednesday on a three-day visit during which both sides are expected to give a fresh momentum to their strategic partnership and finalize a defence cooperation pact.
Al Saud is also Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister and it will be the highest level political visit to India from Saudi Arabia after the landmark visit of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in January 2006.
The defence cooperation pact will allow exchange of defence-related information, military training and education as well as cooperation in areas varying from hydrography and security to logistics.
The Crown Prince will call on President Pranab Mukherjee and meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vice President M Hamid Ansari. He will also meet Defence Minister AK Antony and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
Saudi Arabia is India`s fourth largest trade partner with bilateral trade recording at USD 43 billion in 2012-13. Saudi Arabia is also India`s largest crude oil supplier accounting for about one-fifth of its total imports in 2012-13.
India`s exports to Saudi Arabia include mineral fuels, cereals, steel, iron ore and organic chemicals, while imports comprise crude oil, plastics and its articles, fertilisers, aluminium and leather.
Indians form the largest expatriate community in Saudi Arabia and their contribution in the progress and development of their host country is well recognised. There are over 2.88 million Indian nationals now working in Saudi Arabia.
The Crown Prince will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including cabinet ministers, senior officials and captains of industry.
During the Prime Minister`s visit to Riyadh in 2010, both the countries had decided to elevate the bilateral engagement to `Strategic Partnership` covering security, economic, defence and political areas.
In recent years, there has been significant progress in bilateral cooperation in key areas of mutual interest, including energy security, trade and infrastructure development projects.
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