Manmohan to go to Saudi
Arabia, Qatar next month
Delhi, Oct 17 (IANS) In his first visit to the Gulf region
after becoming prime minister over four years ago, Manmohan
Singh will go to Saudi Arabia and Qatar next month - an important
visit that seeks to underscore India's special ties with the
Singh will go to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf's most influential
country, and Qatar, home to large oil and gas reserves, on
a two-nation visit that begins Nov 8, official sources told
will be the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Riyadh
in over two-and-a-half decades after Indira Gandhi went there
visit has been in the making for over a year. External Affairs
Minister Pranab Mukherjee's trip to Riyadh early this year,
after several last-minute postponements, prepared the much-needed
groundwork for the prime minister's forthcoming visit.
Singh's trip to Riyadh will return the visit by the Saudi
monarch, King Abdullah, to New Delhi in 2006 that heralded
a new era in not only New Delhi's ties with Riyadh but also
with the energy-rich Middle East that is home to over 4.5-million
strong Indian diaspora.
feted King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud as chief guest at
the Republic Day parade in 2006 - the first visit by a Saudi
monarch to the country in over half a century.
prime minister's visit will build upon the 2006 Delhi Declaration
that moved the ties beyond energy security into a larger strategic
orbit by including active cooperation in combating terrorism
and cooperation on regional issues as new elements of engagement
between the two countries.
energy and economy-related agreements are likely to be signed
during the visit, the sources added. Details are being worked
visit will also focus on the development of a "strategic
energy partnership" with Saudi Arabia, the world's top
oil producer that supplies nearly 30 percent of India's crude
security will again be a key theme during the prime minister's
day-long visit to Qatar, home to around 420,000 expatriate
Indians. Issues relating to the welfare of Indian workers
in that country will also be discussed.
years ago, India signed an agreement for exporting 7.5 million
tonnes of liquefied gas from Qatar annually in two phases.
elections barely a few months away, the prime minister's visit
to two influential Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries
is also imbued with political overtones and is likely to be
projected as a sign of India's commitment to deepen relations
with the Muslim world despite New Delhi's growing ties with