India, Kuwait hopeful of signing pact on prisoner swaps soon | india | Hindustan Times
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India, Kuwait hopeful of signing pact on prisoner swaps soon

India and Kuwait are in the process of finalising a pact on exchange of prisoners under which convicted persons would be able to serve their jail terms in their respective countries.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2009 11:40 IST

India and Kuwait are in the process of finalising a pact on exchange of prisoners under which convicted persons would be able to serve their jail terms in their respective countries.

Indian Ambassador to the oil-rich country Ajay Malhotra said the proposed agreement would benefit over 200 Indians currently languishing in various jails in Kuwait.

"We are negotiating an agreement on prisoner swap with Kuwait and I am hopeful that it would be finalised soon," Malhotra told PTI in New Delhi.

He said Indian prisoners would be able to serve the rest of their jail term in India if the pact is signed.

Last week, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi had informed Parliament that 175 Indian prisoners were languishing in the Central Jail of Kuwait while 61 others are serving jail terms in the Public Jail of Kuwait.

The Ambassador said he was in touch with Kuwaiti authorities to ensure that Indian prisoners there do not face any discrimination.

Giving details of the steps being taken to extend help to Indians living in the country, Malhotra said the embassy has started many facilities, including a shelter to Indians in distress and free legal advice from Kuwaiti lawyers.

Asked about job losses by Indians due to recession, Malhotra said retrenchment was low in Kuwait compared to other Gulf countries.

The six lakh-strong Indian communities is the largest expatriate group in Kuwait, which has a population of about 35 lakh.

Noting that bilateral ties between the two countries are thriving, Malhotra said trade between them has increased significantly in the last couple of years.

The Ambassador said India's UTI, Germany's HSH Nordbank and Noor Financial Investment Company of Kuwait have set up an infrastructure focused on private equity fund called India Infrastructure Development Fund (IIDF), which reflects growing trade, and business ties between the two countries.

"The IIDF will have a corpus fund of $ 500 million," he said adding that many Indian oil companies have also shown interest in investing in Kuwait.

Twelve per cent of crude oil import by India comes from Kuwait while the Gulf region as a whole accounts for two-third of India's oil imports.

Bilateral trade between the two countries was recorded at $ 8.4 billion in 2007-08.

Earlier this year, Vice President Hamid Ansari paid a three-day visit to Kuwait, the first by a top Indian leader in 28 years.