Indian PM visits Saudi
SAUDI ARABIA: Manmohan Singh arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for
the first visit by an Indian Premier to the oil kingpin in 28 years with
energy imports, Middle East peace and Islamic militancy on the agenda.
|* First visit
by an Indian Premier to the oil kinpin in 28 years
* Seek to strengthen cooperation
on fighting terrorism and promoting regional stability
The Indian Prime Minister was greeted by Crown Prince Sultan bin
Abdul Aziz, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
Singh said in a newspaper interview published ahead of his arrival
that he will seek to strengthen cooperation on fighting terrorism and
promoting regional stability.
“India and Saudi Arabia belong to the same extended neighbourhood,”
he told the Saudi Gazette.
“During my visit I propose to discuss with King Abdullah how we can
promote greater stability and security in the region,” he said.
“Both King Abdullah and I reject the notion that any cause justifies
wanton violence against innocent people.
“We are strong allies against the scourge of extremism and terrorism
that affects global peace and security.”
The visit, the first by an Indian premier since Indira Gandhi came in
1982, underscores both sides’ desire to improve ties.
King Abdullah broke the ice underpinned by Riyadh’s long deep ties
with Indian rival Pakistan with a visit to New Delhi in January 2006,
just five months into his reign.
Together with a trip to China, it represented the oil giant’s turn
eastward toward Asia’s economic dynamism from its former Western
On the first full day of the visit Sunday, Singh plans to address the
Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and the advisory Shoura Council.
His is also expected to meet King Abdullah.
The deaths of at least nine Indians among 16 people killed in a
militant attack in the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday highlighted the
visit’s focus on security issues.
The two sides are concerned about Al-Qaeda and other radical Islamic
groups with footholds in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where Saudi Arabia
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai telephoned the Indian premier to
offer his condolences earlier Saturday. Singh conveyed India’s “outrage”
at the strike, a statement from the Indian leader’s office said.