After two missed opportunities, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to visit Saudi Arabia soon to expand the strategic partnership between the two countries, Saudi Ambassador Faisal bin Hassan Ahmad Trad told mediapersons here on Friday.
Dr. Singh had been planning to visit Saudi Arabia for a year, but a mismatch in dates led to the postponement of the visit twice. The dates are once again being worked out, and Mr. Trad was hopeful of Dr. Singh visiting his country either next month or in March.
India recently named Talmiz Ahmad the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia to iron out the wrinkles in bilateral ties. This is the second stint for Mr. Ahmad as Ambassador in Riyadh. He replaced former Union Minister M.O.H. Farooq.
The visit could see the signing of nine agreements including a joint investment fund of $750 million, with Saudi Arabia contributing two-thirds of the amount and India the rest. Joint investment funds have become the preferred vehicle for India to tap surplus funds in the Gulf for its infrastructural requirements.
Other agreements would include an Extradition Treaty and an Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners. About 1,500 Indians are imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, mostly on charges of improper documentation or for drug trafficking.
Other agreements relate to the science and technology, IT, and education sectors.
Mr. Trad said his country would not deviate from the recent revision in visa norms, which include a police certificate to accompany the application. Riyadh is also tightening rules for registering travel agents to weed out fly-by-night operators who land job-seekers in trouble when they reach Gulf countries.