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Manmohan receives Jaber al-Sabah, says Kuwait a 'most valued partner'
Friday November 8, 2013 10:51 PM, IANS

India and Kuwait Friday discussed cooperation in energy, infrastructure and labour laws, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the Gulf nation as a "most valued partner" and a "close friend".

The two counties also inked five pacts following talks between the Indian prime minister and his visiting Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.

"India's relations with Kuwait are rooted in historical links and enriched by the great warmth and goodwill between our peoples," Manmohan Singh said at a joint media briefing here.

"Today, Kuwait is one of our most valued partners and a close friend in an important region of the world, which is critical for India's energy security, is among the biggest destinations for our exports and where more than seven million Indians work and earn their livelihood," he said.

The prime minister also spoke about the Indian nationals, mostly unskilled workers employed in the Gulf country.

"I expressed our gratitude to the Kuwaiti leadership for hosting 700,000 Indian nationals in Kuwait. They are part of Kuwaiti society and are making valuable contributions to Kuwait's development.

"Given that many of them are unskilled or semi-skilled workers, I requested the prime minister for the continued support of the Kuwaiti leadership to ensure that the full protection of Kuwaiti laws and labour welfare measures is available to them," he added.

The remarks came in the wake of deportation of many illegal Indian workers from Gulf countries including Kuwait following strict implementation of their labour laws.

The agreements signed between the two countries included transfer of sentenced prisoners in both countries.

Highlighting that Kuwait was the fourth largest supplier of crude oil to India, Manmohan Singh said they discussed the development of a "more strategic partnership in the energy sector".

"This can be done through long-term supply contracts on mutually beneficial terms and the establishment of upstream and downstream joint ventures in the petroleum and petrochemical sectors.

"India has proposed several specific projects for investments by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation," the Indian leader said.

"I am encouraged by prime minister Sheikh Jaber's response and I am hopeful that we can translate some of these proposals into concrete symbols of cooperation very soon," he said.

India offers attractive investment opportunities for Kuwait in the infrastructure sector, the prime minister said.

"Our two sides will undertake discussions on specific proposals and appropriate investment vehicles for channelling Kuwaiti investments in India.

"A delegation of the Kuwait Investment Authority is expected to make an early visit to India in this context," he said.

With Kuwait having a $350 billion of sovereign wealth fund, India is hoping that it can be utilized to invest in the country, particularly in the energy and infrastructure sectors.

The visit of the Kuwaiti prime minister comes after a long gap of 49 years.

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