Signalling a significant enhancement of the bilateral engagement, King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan arrive in India for a state visit on Thursday, the first by Jordan's ruling family in 20 years since King Hussein visited India in 1986. The last time an Indian Prime Minister visited Amman was in 1988, when Rajiv Gandhi travelled to Jordan.
The visit to India comes days ahead of a crucial meeting King Abdullah is hosting in Jordan on the future of the West Asia peace process, strained by the recent Israeli aggression in Lebanon and Palestine.US President George Bush is among those who will be participating in that meeting. India does not have a significant role to play in the region, but has close relations with all parties involved, including Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
It is likely the West Asian crisis will figure prominently in the talks the King will hold with Indian leaders. India has consistently advocated a peaceful, negotiated settlement in West Asia, upholding the two-nation theory. It has, however, not joined in the blame game, senior officials said, seeking an implementation of the United Nations resolutions on Palestine.
The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for West Asia, Chinmaya R Gharekhan, will not be in India during the visit as he is travelling abroad, he said.
India is one of the top five trading partners of Jordan, with a total volume of bilateral commerce pegged at around 494 million dollars annually. India's exports range from frozen meats, pharmaceutical products, handicrafts and cosmetics to chemicals and oil exploration and infrastructure services in the road and rail sectors.
Several key agreements are expected to be signed during the substantive meetings King Abdullah holds with Indian leaders on Friday, among them a bilateral investment protection and promotion agreement (BIPA).