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King Abdullah offers to renovate Jama Masjid

The king, who will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, also offered to provide money for education.

delhi Updated: Jan 10, 2006 13:28 IST

According to a report, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, who plans to visit India this month, has offered to renovate the nation's largest mosque as well as provide money for education.

Theoffer had raised worries among India's security agencies, who fear that an influx of Saudi money could be used for the "promotion of sectarianism" in the mainly Hindu but officially secular country.

While uneasy over the offer, the newspaper said thatthe government was keen not to cause offence to the king who will be the chief guest at India's Republic Day celebrations.

This will be the first visit to India by a Saudi monarch in 51 years.

It was not specified whether the money would be earmarked for Muslim schools or for funding education in general.

News reports have quoted Saudi diplomats as saying that the trip to India could help the desert kingdom contribute to the peace process between New Delhi and Islamabad and would helpin settling their decades-old feud over Kashmir.

The king is visiting India as part of a four-nation tour which will also take him to Pakistan, China and Malaysia.

The sprawling Jama Masjid in the Indian capital's teeming old quarter was built in 1656 by Emperor Shahjahan and is in need of repair.

First Published: Jan 04, 2006 15:17 IST