Indian PM to make first Saudi visit in 28 years

Pm to address the nation's consultative assembly


Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will head to Saudi Arabia this weekend for the first trip by an Indian PM to the Middle East oil heavyweight in 28 years, his office said.

During the three-day visit starting Saturday, Singh will meet King Abdullah and address the nation's consultative assembly in Riyadh, a spokesman said.

New Delhi, which imports more than 70 percent of its energy needs, has been trawling for new oil supplies while attempting to ramp up domestic production to fuel its fast-growing economy.

Saudi Arabia is India's biggest crude supplier accounting for 20 percent of the country's total consumption, according to India's industry body FICCI. Regional rival China is the biggest importer of oil from the country.

The Hindustan Times reported that India and Saudi Arabia would sign nine agreements on expanding cooperation in the hydro-carbon sector, an extradition treaty and agreements on science and technology.

On a previous tour of the Middle East in 2008, Manmohan Singh visited Oman and Qatar.