New Delhi, March 20: Bahrain Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa on Tuesday said that Bahrain hopes to develop and build on its existing relationships with India, mainly in the social and economic fields.
"We are building upon the relationship that exists between two countries. We are here to explore the potential for many new relationships both in the social and the economic fields. We hope to develop this relationship to its natural conclusion," he said after meeting External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Echoing Khalifa's sentiments, Mukherjee said that the Crown Prince's visit to India is a step towards strengthening relations between the two countries.
“We have a traditional relationship with Bahrain. I have no doubt that this visit will further strengthen our relationship and cooperation. Our relationship is multi-faceted. We share many common perceptions. The far-reaching reforms are also taking place in Bahrain. Indian expatriates feel quite comfortable and the society which is tolerant and provides all facilities are exemplary to many others," Mukherjee said.
Khalifa, accompanied by a high level business delegation, also met Overseas Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.
The Crown Prince, who arrived here on a three-day visit, is scheduled to meet National Security Advisor MK Narayanan in the afternoon.
As per his schedule, the Crown Prince will attend the business meeting that is being organised by Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Indian Industries.
Thereafter, the Crown Prince will meet President A P J Abdul Kalam at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the evening. Later, he will call on the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
The two countries will sign two agreements during the visit -- one to boost bilateral cultural exchanges and the other to facilitate an exchange of media programmes.
Besides, the Crown Prince will be interviewed by New Delhi TV channel (NDTV) President Dr. Prannoy Roy before his address at the Indian Council of World Affairs on Wednesday.
He is also scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on Wednesday. The Crown Prince will then leave for Mumbai.
On Thursday, Shaikh Salman will visit the aircraft-carrier INS Virat at the Naval Dockyard. He will also visit the Bombay Stock Exchange and the headquarters of Tata Consultancy Services in the city.
The Economic Development Board will host a business lunch and organise one-on-one business meetings, before the Crown Prince and his delegation return to Bahrain on Thursday evening.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed al Khalifa and Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro, besides senior officials and key business honchos will accompany the Crown Prince.
India and Bahrain have close, friendly, deep-rooted and multi-faceted ties. India-Bahrain bilateral trade was around US 575 million dollars in 2005, with Indian exports being 157mn dollars and imports 418mn dollars.
There are several Indian public and private sector companies working in Bahrain. Around 260,000 Indians live and work in Bahrain.