Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to undertake a long-overdue visit to Saudi Arabia next month or early March during which the two countries will sign nine pacts, including an Extradition Treaty and an Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners.

The focus of the visit will be to expand the Strategic Partnership that was reached between the two countries during the trip of Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz here in January 2006 when he was the Chief Guest for Republic Day.

“A new era of relationship was started when the King visited India in 2006...It opened a new important chapter in the relations. We are going to witness again a new chapter being opened during the long-awaited visit of the Prime Minister,” Saudi Ambassador Faisal H. Trad told a select group of journalists.

He said the exact dates for the visit were being finalised but indicated that it could take place either late next month or early March as the two countries had agreed to have the trip in the first quarter of this year.

The return visit to the Saudi King’s India trip has been in the pipeline for long but has failed to fructify. There was a proposal for the visit in November 2008 and preparations were being made but it failed to take place due to scheduling problems.

Mr. Trad said nine pacts will be signed during the visit.

These include an Extradition Treaty and an Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners.

Around 700 Indians are serving sentence in Saudi Arabia while another 700 are under trial, he said, adding no Saudi national is imprisoned here.

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