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India, Saudi Arabia to hold talks tomorrow


New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will hold extensive talks with her Saudi Arabian counterpart Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir tomorrow during which they will discuss entire gamut of bilateral ties besides regional and global issues of mutual interests.

Al-Jubeir’s visit comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, one of the most powerful Arab nations, from April 2.

Saudi Arabia is India’s largest crude oil supplier accounting for about one-fifth of the country’s total imports.

The Gulf nation is India’s fourth largest trading partner with bilateral trade reaching USD 40 billion in 2014-15.

Indians are the largest expatriate community in Saudi Arabia whose contribution in the progress and development of the country is well recognised. There are over 2.96 million Indians currently working in Saudi Arabia.

“During the visit, the two ministers will discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest,” the External Affairs Ministry said.

Ways to ramp up trade trade ties, besides exploring new areas of cooperation are likely to figure in talks between the two leaders. The two leaders are set to deliberate on the situation in West Asia too.

Previously, Swaraj and Al-Jubeir had met on the sidelines of the First India Arab League Ministerial meeting in Manama on January 24.

The ‘Strategic Partnership’ the two countries established in 2010 envisions a deeper engagement in political, economic, security and defence areas through the Riyadh Declaration.

“In recent years, there has been significant progress in bilateral cooperation in key areas of mutual interest, including energy security, trade and infrastructure development projects,” the MEA said.

Modi will travel to Saudi Arabia as part of his three- nation trip from March 30 during which he will also visit Washington to attend Nuclear Security Summit.

Starting his visit with Belgium on March 30 for India-EU Summit, Modi will travel to Washington for NSS from March 31 before his two-day bilateral visit from April 2 to Saudi Arabia.

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