India, Saudi sign key defence agreement

The pact was signed following talks between Saud and Vice President Hamid Ansari during which a range of bilateral, regional and international issues figured.

New Delhi | Published: February 28, 2014 2:17 am

The Prime Minister and the visiting Saudi Arabian crown prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud discussed trade, investment, terrorism and security situation in West Asia and Afghanistan during the private lunch the PM hosted for the crown prince, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The two sides have inked a defence cooperation pact which will allow exchange of defence-related information, military training and education and cooperation in areas varying from hydrography and security to logistics. The pact was signed following talks between Saud and Vice President Hamid Ansari during which a range of bilateral, regional and international issues figured. He also met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

Meanwhile, a senior Saudi official said the much talked about Nitaqat law was aimed at punishing illegal expatriates and no legal employee will be discriminated. Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Information, Abdulaziz Binsalamah told reporters Nitaqat has been implemented to ensure that millions of foreign workers, including Indians who have valid documents, can enjoy their entitlements. “The legislation has been brought to benefit millions of expatriates. In fact, the legal citizens are now relieved.”

Singh also thanked the visiting Saudi dignitary for taking good care of Indian haj pilgrims and the two million Indians staying there. This is the highest level political visit to India from Saudi Arabia after the landmark visit of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in January 2006.

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