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Saudi Crown Prince arrives in India for official visit - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (C) poses for a photograph with Indian Vice-President Hamed Ansari (R) as Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahmed (L) looks on at the airport in New Delhi on February 26, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/RAVEENDRAN)

Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (C) poses for a photograph with Indian Vice-President Hamed Ansari (R) as Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahmed (L) looks on at the airport in New Delhi on February 26, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/RAVEENDRAN)

London and New Delhi, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz arrived in India for a three-day official visit on Wednesday, in the final leg of a foreign tour.

During his visit, the Crown Prince is expected to focus on boosting trade links between the two states, as well as sign a new defense agreement.

After landing at Indira Ghandi International Airport, Prince Salman, who also serves as Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, said that his visit was part of an effort by King Abdullah to “consolidate cooperation between the two countries in all fields and enhance consultation and coordination between them on regional and international issues of common concern.”

Prince Salman is scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday.

During the visit, the two states will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on defense training and cooperation, according to press reports, which will also open the door to exploring defense industrial cooperation.

Saudi–Indian ties will be boosted by the visit, the official in charge of relations with Middle East and North African trade at the Confederation of Indian Industry said, amid a sharp growth in trade between the two countries.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ghorbal Singh praised recent developments in Saudi–Indian relations in the economic field, and said joint trade had trebled in the last five years, making Saudi Arabia India’s fourth-biggest trade partner with approximately 43.78 billion US dollars’ worth of bilateral trade in 2012-13.

Singh said: “The [prince’s] visit is an opportunity discover and diversify joint trade which today relies largely on oil and gas,” adding “the rapid growth in the private sector in Saudi Arabia has provided many great opportunities for immigrant workers, which is what we look to achieve from the visit.”

Wael Abu Mansosur contributed reporting from New Delhi

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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