Atul Aneja

India is an observer at the Arab League Summit

DUBAI: India has sought Saudi Arabia's support for forging closer bonds with the Arab world.

In a letter to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for the Saudi monarch's backing for "the enhancement of the close historical links between India and the Arab states that span many centuries." He added that India looked forward to King Abdullah's support for "consolidating the excellent relations which we enjoy with the member states of the Arab League."

Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed delivered the Prime Minister's letter to King Abdullah. Mr. Ahamed is leading a delegation to the Arab League summit, where India is an observer. The Prime Minister expressed his "warm appreciation" for the initiative taken by the King for facilitating the Makkah accord.

The accord signed last month resulted in the formation of a Palestinian national unity government. Dr. Singh pointed out that India had always extended a "principled and consistent support" to Arab causes, and would be happy to share with Arab partners "our experience and strengths in newer areas such as information technology, education and health."

He said India's ties with Saudi Arabia had entered a "new phase" following King Abdullah's "historic visit" to India in 2006.

During the day, Mr. Ahamed met United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa and chief Palestinian negotiator Saib Erekat.