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PM sees Saudi as strategic partner for promoting peace
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and Saudi King Abdullah, who held wide-ranging discussions, signed the Riyadh Declaration outlining the contours of a new era of strategic partnership between the two countries.
After the unprecedented welcome on Friday when the entire Saudi cabinet was present to receive him at the airport on his arrival, Dr Singh was accorded a grand reception at the imposing Al Rawadah Palace.
King Abdullah received the prime minister and participated in the whole welcome ceremony, a rare honour bestowed on visiting dignitaries.
Both sides emphasised the importance of strengthening the strategic energy partnership in line with the Delhi [Images] Declaration of 2006, including meeting India's increasing requirement of crude oil supplies and identifying areas of new and renewable energy. India invited Saudi Arabia to participate in crude storage facilities in the country.
The two leaders condemned terrorism, extremism and violence, affirming that it is global and threatens all societies and is not linked to any race, colour and belief.
Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in exchange of information relating to terrorist activities, money-laundering, narcotics, arms and human trafficking, and develop joint strategies to combat these threats.
The Extradition Treaty, signed by Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad [Images] and Prince Naif bib Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, further enhances existing security cooperation and will help in apprehending wanted persons in each other's country, Vijaya Latha Reddy, secretary (east) in the external affairs ministry, told reporters in Riyadh.
Besides this, four other agreements were inked in the presence of the two leaders. These are relating to transfer of sentenced persons, cultural cooperation, memorandum of understanding between the Indian Space Research Organisation and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology for cooperation in peaceful use of outer space and joint research and information technology.
Four other agreements were signed during the day, including one by Tata Motors [Get Quote] to supply school buses worth USD 80 million.
The six-page Declaration said keeping in view the development of relations between the two countries, and the potential for their further growth, the two leaders decided to raise their cooperation to a strategic partnership covering, security, economic, defence and political areas.
The two leaders agreed to continue strengthening defence cooperation in a way that realises the common interests of Saudi Arabia and India.
Both Dr Singh and King Abdullah discussed the peace process in the Middle East and reviewed the ongoing efforts. They hoped there would be early resumption of the peace process in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Plan with a view to address all key issues of the dispute comprehensively and within a definite time-frame leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestinian state.
The two leaders emphasised that continued building of settlements by Israel constitutes a fundamental stumbling block for the peace process.
The Declaration said Dr Singh and King Abdullah reiterated their support for the ongoing international efforts to resolve the issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme peacefully through dialogue.
They asked Iran to respond to these efforts in order to remove regional and international doubts about its nuclear programme. This was especially so as these efforts ensure the right of Iran and other countries to peaceful uses of nuclear energy according to the yardsticks and procedures of the IAEA and under its supervision.
The situation in Afghanistan figured in the talks and the two leaders called for preservation of the country's sovereignty and independence. They supported the efforts of the Afghan people to achieve stability and security, protected from exploitation by the terrorist organisations.
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