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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 27.02.2014

His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called on the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan today (February 27, 2014).

Welcoming the Crown Prince, the President said relations between India and Saudi Arabia will be greatly strengthened by his visit which is his first as Crown Prince. India cherishes its cordial and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, which are deep-rooted in history and based on the foundation of close people-to-people contacts.

The President said the visit of His Majesty King Abdullah to India as the Chief Guest of India’s Republic Day in 2006 was a high point in the bilateral ties. The visit of Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh to Riyadh in 2010 transformed the relationship between India and Saudi Arabia to one of strategic partnership.

The President said the MoU signed between the two sides yesterday would help defence personnel of the two countries to work closely and learn from the experiences of each other. Both countries are vulnerable to the menace of terrorism. India shares many security concerns with Saudi Arabia. He expressed happiness that the two countries have been cooperating in the fight against terrorism, including exchange of information relating to terrorist activities on money laundering, narcotics, arms and human trafficking.

The President said bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia has grown significantly to exceed US$ 43 billion in 2012-13. There is still lot that can be achieved together. There is need to diversify trade relations to non-oil trade sectors. Indian globally reputed companies, with expertise and competence in infrastructure development, are keen to work in upcoming projects in Saudi Arabia. India invites Saudi investors to actively participate in development of its infrastructure, especially construction projects for highways, ports, airports, metros, supply chains and warehousing and power plants which are being regularly launched in India.

The President conveyed his sincere thanks to His Majesty King Abdullah and the Crown Prince for ensuring well-being and safety of Indians in Saudi Arabia. He said on its part, Indian community has contributed earnestly to the development of Saudi Arabia. The President also complimented the Saudi Government for the excellent arrangements made for the comfort of the Haj pilgrims from all over the world, including from India.

The Crown Prince warmly reciprocated the President’s words and said India-Saudi Arabia relations were old and historic. Bilateral relations have been progressing well and the King of Saudi Arabia has instructed that excellent relations should be maintained with India. Saudi Arabia is interested in improving relations in all fields. It welcomes cooperation in fighting terrorism. Saudi-India cooperation is mutually beneficial and of benefit to all countries of the world. India has its own weight on the world stage. Relations must be solidified and strengthened.

This release issued at 1600 hrs