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Saudi Arabia rolls out red carpet to the Indian Prime Minister
Sunday, February 28, 2010 10:21:46 AM, Agencies
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh with wife Mrs. Gursharan Kaur arriving at the King Khalid International Airport -Royal Terminal, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on 27-2-10
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Riyadh: Indian Prime Dr. Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here on Saturday on a three-day historic visit. Ministers and senior officials greeted Singh at the King Khaled International Airport.
In a departure from normal protocol norms, the Saudi Arabian leadership rolled out the red carpet to the Prime Minister as he was received at the royal terminal of the King Khalid International Airport by Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who is also the first Deputy Prime Minister and Defence and Civil Aviation Minister.
In a rare gesture, the entire Cabinet — including Riyadh Governor Prince Abdul Aziz bin Mohammad bin Ayaf and Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz — was at the airport to receive Dr. Singh and his official delegation. The nearly 40-km route from the airport to the city centre was lined with Indian and Saudi Arabian flags.
The welcoming delegation included Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, Interior Minister Prince Naif, Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman, Commerce and Industry Minister Zainal Alireza, Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja, Shoura Council Chairman Abdullah Al-Asheikh, several members of the royal family, commanders of the armed forces, diplomats and senior members of the government.
Singh was accompanied by his wife, Gursharan Kaur, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Deputy Foreign Minister Sashi Tharoor; National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister T.K.A. Nair.
The trip marks the first visit by an Indian prime minister since a visit by Indira Gandhi in 1982.
"It was an unprecedented welcome to our prime minister," said Vishnu Prakash, joint secretary and spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs at a news conference.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh arrived at the King Khalid International Airport - Royal Terminal, Riyadh. He was received by the Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz and other dignitaries in Saudi Arabia on 27-02-10
Singh is slated to hold discussions with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on Sunday and is scheduled to deliver a speech at the Shoura Council on Monday about the constructive role played by the Shoura in the political and economic development of the Kingdom.
On Sunday, Singh will meet Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Al-Naimi, and Alireza. Singh is also slated on Sunday to address the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry. He will meet Prince Naif in the afternoon.
Nine agreements are to be signed during the visit on Sunday night at Al-Rawdah Palace in Riyadh, including an extradition treaty and memoranda of understanding on scientific and technological cooperation.
"My visit carries special significance," said the prime minister to reporters prior to his departure from Delhi. "I am conscious of the fact that this will be only the third visit by an Indian prime minister to Saudi Arabia. My visit reflects the strong mutual desire of both countries to reinvigorate our relations, as manifested in King Abdullah's historic visit to India in 2006 as the chief guest at the Indian Republic Day," he added. "India and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have enjoyed special relations based on several millennia of civilizational and cultural linkages and people-to-people exchanges."
The Kingdom hosts 1.8 million Indian expatriates and it welcomes 140,000 Indian Haj pilgrims every year.
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