India, Saudi Arabia sign defense agreement

Bilateral trade between both countries is estimated at $43 billion in 2012-13

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Saudi Arabia and India signed a historic pact on Thursday to enhance cooperation between the countries in the defense sector.
The agreement was signed by Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdel Aziz and Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari in New Delhi.

Speaking about the pact, Prince Salman said: “The pact for defense cooperation will allow for shared use and exchange of defense-related information, military training and education, as well as cooperation in areas varying from hydrography and security to logistics.”

Prince Salman, who is also deputy prime minister and defense minister of Saudi Arabia, is on a three day official visit to India.
The Saudi Prince on Thursday discussed bilateral relations with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Prince Salman arrived on Wednesday in what marks the first highest level political visit from Saudi Arabia to India after the 2006 landmark trip by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Upon arrival, he expressed in a news conference that the visit comes within a framework set by King Abdullah to “consolidate cooperation between the two countries in all fields,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Saudi Arabia views India as an attractive investment hub for its businesses in Asia.

About 2.88 million Indian nationals work in Saudi Arabia, making up the largest expatriate community in the kingdom.

Bilateral trade between both countries is estimated at $43 billion in 2012-13.

Saudi Arabia is also India’s largest crude oil supplier accounting for about one-fifth of India’s total imports.

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