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Manmohan receives King Abdullah

Saudi Arabia's King will be chief guest at India's Republic Day parade on Jan 26. In pics: All set for R-Day

india Updated: Jan 24, 2006 22:01 IST

In a departure from protocol, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday received Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who arrived on a four-day visit, the first by a Saudi monarch in 51 years.

As a beaming Manmohan Singh shook hands with King Abdullah at the special air force base, one could sense the new warmth in New Delhi's ties with the most influential Arab country in the Gulf that is home to 1.6 million Indian Diaspora.

King Abdullah, who came from Beijing on the second leg of a four-nation trip that will also take him to Malaysia and Pakistan, will be chief guest at India's Republic Day parade on January 26 - a signal honour for a visiting dignitary.

The king is accompanied by an entourage of over 250 people, including officials, business leaders and some of the world's wealthiest oil tycoons.

Manmohan Singh will hold talks with the Saudi king on Wednesday - after a ceremonial welcome at the grand presidential palace, Rashtrapati Bhavan - on long-term security cooperation that will include fighting trans-national crime and terrorism, promoting energy security and initiating defence contacts between the two countries.

Three important pacts - one on combating crime including terrorism and the others aimed at boosting business relations through the avoidance of double taxation and the promotion of bilateral investments - are expected to be signed on Wednesday.

King Abdullah will also inaugurate an exhibition of his country's products and address a business summit.

Manmohan Singh too will address the business meet.

The king will be conferred an honorary doctorate by the Jamia Millia Islamia university on Friday.

He will later travel to Malaysia and Pakistan as part of his four-nation tour that aims to give a boost to his "Look East" policy and promote the image of a democracy-friendly, reform-minded monarch.

First Published: Jan 24, 2006 20:28 IST