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Ariel Sharon arrives in India
September 08, 2003 21:41 IST
Last Updated: September 08, 2003 21:56 IST
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon arrived in Delhi on Monday amid tight security on a historic visit that is expected to cement India's strategic ties with the Jewish state.
He is the first Israeli prime minister to visit India.
Heading a 150-member team, including top representatives of Israeli defence industries, Sharon will hold wide ranging discussions with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Tuesday on a range of bilateral, regional and international issues.
Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Vallabh Bhai Ramjibahi Kathiria, Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal, India's Ambassador to Israel R S Jassal, diplomats and senior officials received the Israeli leader at the Delhi airport.
He would be accorded a ceremonial welcome on Tuesday in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Hours before his arrival, Vajpayee voiced confidence that Sharon's visit would pave the way for further consolidating bilateral ties and said there was no dilution of the country's stand on the Palestinian issue.
"Our relations will be further strengthened," he told reporters, when asked how he viewed the four-day landmark visit.
Six agreements will be signed after Sharon-Vajpayee talks during which the West Asia peace process and the US-backed 'roadmap' for peace, counter-terrorism and the Iraq situation are expected to figure prominently.
The agreements are on environment protection, combating illicit trafficking and abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and visa free travel for diplomatic officials and service personnel between the two countries.
The two sides are negotiating a joint statement that is expected to reflect concerns over terrorism, perceptions on West Asia as also focus on bilateral economic cooperation. India is attaching great importance to the visit.