Saudi crown prince to visit India next week

New Delhi, Feb 22: Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will pay an official visit to India Feb 26-28, the highest level political visit from the kingdom after the 2006 landmark trip by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.

Crown Prince Salman, who is also Saudi Arabia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister, is arriving here at the invitation of Vice President Hamid Ansari.

He would be accompanied by a delegation comprising cabinet ministers, senior officials and captains of industry.

The crown prince will call on President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and also hold bilateral talks with Vice President Hamid Ansari, said an external affairs ministry statement.

This will be crown prince Salman’s second visit to India. He had come in April 2010 when he was governor of Riyadh province.

An official visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Riyadh in 2010 and the Riyadh Declaration signed Feb 28, 2010 elevated the bilateral engagement to “strategic partnership” covering security, economic, defence and political areas.

Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest partner with bilateral trade of over $43 billion in 2012-13. Saudi Arabia is also India’s largest crude oil supplier accounting for about one-fifth of total imports in 2012-13.

Indians form the largest expatriate community in Saudi Arabia. There are over 2.88 million Indian nationals working in Saudi Arabia.

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, said the statement.

IANS