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Norwegian royals to visit India next week

Business, Bollywood and energy will be on the agenda during their week-long visit starting from Sunday.
None | By Indo-Asian News Service, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON OCT 24, 2006 09:10 AM IST

Business, Bollywood and energy will be high on the agenda during the visit of the Norwegian royal family to India next week - the first such visit in the last two decades.

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit start their week-long visit to India on Sunday from Mumbai, the country's financial hub. This is the first high-level visit from Norway after Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg visited India last year.

Haakon will also visit Jaipur, Agra and New Delhi. He will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior ministers in the New Delhi.

During his meeting with the Norwegian crown prince, Manmohan Singh is likely to seek the support of Norway - an influential country in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group and known for its hawkish stand on nuclear issues - for global nuclear energy cooperation, reliable sources said.

The focus of the visit is on business and accelerating economic ties between India and Norway, a Norwegian embassy official said.

The business-centric approach is clear from the composition of the crown prince's delegation that includes 128 top businessmen and CEOs representing leading Norwegian companies in diverse sectors including oil and gas exploration, fishing industry, ship-building and hydel power generation.

Norwegian Minister for Trade and Industry Dag Terje Andersen and Petroleum and Energy Minister Odd Roger Enoksen are part of the entourage. They will hold talks with their Indian counterparts, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, on boosting energy and business ties between the two countries.

Thanks to the around 7,000-strong Indian diaspora in the Scandinavian nation, Bollywood has cast its spell on the Norwegians. Some Norwegian film producers and industry representatives are also expected to be part of the visiting delegation.

Norway, famous for its spectacular fiords and pristine forests, is pitching itself as the ideal setting for Bollywood film producers in search of exotic landscapes.

Promoting tourism is the next logical step and Norway's tourist board is planning to woo Indians, especially stressed-out urbanites yearning to escape the maddening crowd of the metropolis to fresh air and solitude.

India's bilateral trade with Norway has been steadily growing with the two-way trade estimated to be close to $ 305 million in 2004. This represents a trebling of trade in the last decade.

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