Riyadh: India-Saudi Arabia relations are
set to receive a major boost with Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh on Saturday embarking on his long-overdue visit to this oil-
rich country during which the two sides will sign an
Extradition Treaty and 10 other pacts in various fields.
Singh arrived here this evening to a rousing welcome
from the Saudi Government which demonstrated a special gesture
as the entire cabinet, including the three brothers of King
Abdullah, received him and his wife Gursharan Kaur at the King
Khalid International Airport.
First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Crown
Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, Interior Minister and second
Deputy Prime Minister second Crown Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz
and Governor of Riydah Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz warmly
greeted Singh, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the
country in 28 years.
Amid his keenness to impart "strategic character" to
India-Saudi Arabia ties, Singh will hold wide-ranging talks
with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on issues ranging
from cooperation in various areas, situation in Afghanistan
and the threat of terrorism.
India`s concerns over `safe havens` of Al-Qaeda and
Taliban along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border will be also
discussed during the talks between Singh and King Abdullah.
Saudi Arabia itself has concerns with regard to
Al-Qaeda operating out of Yemen.
Flags of both India and Saudi Arabia fluttered the
roads leading to the airport in Riyadh.
Singh will be accorded a formal reception by King
Abdullah tomorrow at the Al Rawdah Palace, where the two
leaders will hold bilateral talks and sign agreements.
Singh and King Abdullah will also hold talks on
opening "new frontiers" of cooperation in various areas
including security and defence.
Oil and Mineral Resources Minister Alial Naimi,
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal and Commerce and
Industries Minister Abdulla Zainal Ali Reza will call on the
Prime Minister tomorrow and hold discussions.
During the three-day visit, the two sides will sign
Extradition Treaty and 10 other pacts, including Agreement on
Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners and Agreement on setting up
Joint Investment Fund.
Ahead of his departure from New Delhi, the Prime
Minister, in a statement, noted that his visit to Saudi Arabia
carries a "special significance" and that India and Saudi
Arabia have much to gain by cooperating with each other in
combating extremism and terrorism.
Singh said he would discuss with the Saudi King the
situation in Afghanistan and other regional issues and ways in
which "we promote greater stability and security in the region
and impart a strategic character to our relations beyond the
traditional areas of our cooperation".