MANAMA: India and Bahrain have vowed to strengthen their ties in key areas like trade and counter- terrorism besides signing an agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held “wide-ranging” talks with her Bahraini counterpart in Manama.
Ms Swaraj, who is in Manama for a two-day visit to attend the first ministerial meeting of the India-Arab League Cooperation Forum, held “wide-ranging” discussions with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa yesterday.
After the talks, the two leaders signed the agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons. According to the pact, once an expatriate has been sentenced in the other country, the sentence can be served in the country of origin.
“Both sides discussed the possibilities of also concluding the pending agreement,” Secretary East Anil Wadhwa told reporters after the talks.
“The Double Taxation Avoidance agreement is something Bahrain would like to see happen with India and India would like to see an MoU on defence cooperation with Bahrain.
Bahrain is also interested in this agreement…both sides are working towards that,” he said.
Asked if counter-terrorism was discussed, Mr Wadhwa said, “whenever India and Bahrain meet, this is an issue that is always discussed, security cooperation in the region and how both sides can contribute to each other’s security. India and Bahrain have cooperated really well recently in this field and this cooperation will continue”.
On being asked if India and Bahrain vowed to strengthen ties in security, counter-terrorism and trade, he said, it can be “summed up” in that way as there was a discussion on all the three areas.
Ms Swaraj also attended the Bahrain International Air Show at Sakhir Airbase.
On the sidelines of the air show, she called on Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the two leaders watched India’s indigenously developed Dhruv helicopters and Tejas Light Combat Aircraft perform aerobatics in the skies.
Ms Swaraj visited the India pavilion at the air show where the scientists gave the minister a briefing on Tejas.
The Tejas flight was hailed by officials present here as a “historic event” as the country hopes to explore potential export opportunities.
Mr Wadhwa said Bahrain was facing a “crunch” due to the oil situation of the world and was looking to diversify its economy. In that context, India invited the Bahraini side to participate in India’s flagship Make in India programme.
In a gesture, Khalid accompanied Ms Swaraj to Shrinath temple in the ‘Little India’ area of the Bahraini capital.
“It is a rare gesture on the part of Bahrain Foreign Minister to accompany her (Swaraj) to the temple and visit the Little India area,” an official said.