New Delhi: Terrorism will be high on the agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his three-day visit to Saudi Arabia from Saturday when the two countries will sign an extradition treaty.
Singh will be the first Indian prime minister to visit Saudi Arabia after 28 years, the last one undertaken by Indira Gandhi in 1982.
The Prime Minister will hold talks with King Abdullah on a number of bilateral and regional matters of mutual concern and also address the influential Shura Council.
The talks are also expected to focus on Palestine, besides the situation in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
With both countries concerned over the rise of extremisim and violence, security cooperation is likely to figure prominently during the talks.
Both India and Saudi Arabia are aware of the connectivity of extremist forces that have sanctuary and safe havens in the Af-Pak border area and are seeking to penetrate other countries of the region.
New Delhi is concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia is perturbed over the stepped-up Al Qaeda operations from Yemen.
The two countries will sign an extradition treaty, a number of MoUs and agreements on transfer of sentenced persons, scientific and technological cooperation, peaceful use of outer space and cooperation in the IT sector.
Singh’s visit will boost Indo-Saudi relations further and change the dynamics of our strategic ties, Saudi Ambassador to India Faisal H. Trad said.
The visit would also help enhance cooperation in education, economy and the manpower sectors, he said.
The Saudi mission in New Delhi issues 600,000 visas every year to Indians for visit and employment besides giving 170,000 Haj visas for people to undertake the pilgrimage.
Officials here said the two countries hoped to put in place an institutionalized dialogue to promote mutual interest in foreign affairs, intelligence, defence, energy and other areas of immediate and direct interest to the two nations.
During his visit Singh will address the Shura Council or the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia on 1 March, a rare honour for a visiting foreign dignitary.
Singh is expected to share his perspectives on the political and economic challenges facing the regional and international communities.
Singh’s visit comes four years after the landmark visit of King Abdullah to India in January 2006. The two sides had then put in place the vision of a joint partnership based on substantial political and cultural exchanges.
Singh will also address the Indian community before leaving Riyadh on Monday.
Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries Ltd, Essar’s Shashi Ruia and IT poster boys Azim Premji and S. Ramadorai are expected to join the Prime Minister during parleys between the business delegations of the two sides.