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Sushma in Bahrain, first Modi's colleague on tour to an Arab state
Sunday September 7, 2014 5:12 PM, News Network

Indian Freign Minister Sushma Sawaraj Saturday visited Bahrain, and met King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. During her meeting with the King, Sushma discussed the bilateral ties and also invited the King to visit India.

Sushma with Bahrain King

Sushma Sawaraj is the first minister of the Modi-led union government who has visited an Arab state.

Ever since Modi government was formed in New Delhi, apprehensions were raised over what shape the Indo-Arab ties will take place. Sushma Swaraj's Bahrain visit is seen as a positive step in this regard.

During her day-long visit to Bahrain, the oil rich state bordering Saudi Arabia, Sushma called on King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and conveyed to the King greetings and appreciation from Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wished Bahrain further progress and prosperity.

The King hailed steadily-growing cooperation and deep-rooted historic relations which are based on mutual respect and joint coordination, citing his recent successful visit to India, which contributed to bolstering joint ties and heralding new horizons for fruitful and constructive cooperation on all levels.

The King stressed the importance of sustaining senior officials’ visits and hosting such key forums which contribute to strengthening political, economic and trade cooperation and bolstering communication between the private sectors towards setting joint ventures which benefit the two friendly peoples.

He commended joint coordination regarding key regional and international issues at different world arenas, hailing the pivotal role of India and its contribution to maintaining international security, stability and peace.

The King also paid tribute to the Indian expatriate community for their role over long years in pushing forward the march of progress and development, which contributed to Bahrain’s strides in all sectors.

"The Indian migrants are welcomed and appreciated by all in Bahrain", the King said as he reviewed with Swaraj regional and international issues and developments of joint interest.

On her arrival in Bahrain, Sushma was welcomed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, who praised the friendly ties and cooperation between the two countries, stressing the importance of the visit in further bolstering relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Republic of India.

Addressing around 400 delegates comprising overseas Indians as well as business and industry leaders from Bahrain at the Diaspora Engagement Meet here, Sushma Swaraj stressed on the need to make the overseas Indians a part of this development agenda.

"Our government is firmly committed to bring back growth, have clear policies which will facilitate business environment, transparency and speed, well thought out decisions.

"The result is there before you in just 100 days. GDP growth is showing early signs of recovery. Our focus is growth with good governance and transparency with eye on manufacturing, infrastructure and trade," she said.

Welcoming the Indian diaspora, she said: "Come to India, set up industries and join our dream of growth. Things are changing in India and you will experience in engaging with us.

"The prime minister of India, in Japan already said that there will be no red tape, there will be a red carpet."

The meet was organised by the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC). Sushma Swaraj arrived here on a day-long engagement.

Addressing the conference, Kamal Bin Ahmed, minister of transportation and acting chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said that Sushma Swaraj choosing Bahrain for the first visit to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region underlines the value and importance of Bahrain's relations with India.

He said Bahrain will further support the goals outlined by the OIFC and focus on further strengthening bilateral trade.

"The opening of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) office in Bahrain will further facilitate bilateral trade and investment. India is one of the key emerging markets and has been one of the strongest bilateral trade partners of Bahrain."

Prem Narain, secretary in the ministry of overseas Indian affairs, and OIFC chairman, said: "India and Bahrain have had strong trade relations but now is the time for business leaders from both sides to explore new opportunities and sectors for bilateral trade promotion.

"A focused initiative like the Diaspora Engagement Meet is another step in this direction to strengthen the mutually beneficial engagement with Global Indians in Bahrain."

The OIFC signed two agreements with the Bahrain Economic Development Board and the Bahrain India Society, and called for structured engagement with the Indian diaspora in Bahrain to link them with the India growth story.

A series of focused presentations on sectors like healthcare, medical tourism, pharmaceuticals, food processing and agri infrastructure, highlighted the business opportunities between India and Bahrain.

Kerala presented the state's initiatives for NRIs through NORKA-Roots. A discussion on policy framework to facilitate investments and economic engagement with India led by the Reserve Bank of India and leading banks, was a hallmark of the programme.

For the first time, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) participated in an overseas meet organised by the OIFC.

The DIPP shared with the audience the new policy framework for investment in India as well as iconic infrastructure projects like the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).

eBiz, an ambitious project of the DIPP which aims to get all procedures, clearances on a common platform, received much appreciation.

The OIFC was established in 2007 with the objective of supporting the Indian diaspora connect better with India and assisting them in deepening their economic and intellectual engagement with India.

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