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King signs accord, a first for him

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GETTING CLOSER: King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, hugging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after signing the `Delhi Declaration' in New Delhi on Friday. This is the first time in history that the King made a joint declaration with any other country. _ PHOTO: SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY
GETTING CLOSER: King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, hugging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after signing the `Delhi Declaration' in New Delhi on Friday. This is the first time in history that the King made a joint declaration with any other country. _ PHOTO: SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

Amit Baruah

Both countries developing a broad strategic vision: Delhi Declaration

Other countries might feel jealous about the agreement but India was very special, says kingSaudi Arabia had discovered a new India during king's visit: says Prince Bandar

NEW DELHI: It was a first for the monarch. Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud admitted on Friday that it was the first time he had actually "signed" an agreement with any country.

"This is the first time that I am going to sign an agreement with any country," the king said just before signing the "Delhi Declaration" with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Hyderabad House.

"This is truly historic," the Prime Minister's media adviser, Sanjaya Baru, quoted him as saying.

According to Dr. Baru, the custodian of the two holy mosques told Vice-President B.S. Shekhawat that other countries might feel jealous that he had "signed" this declaration, but India was "very special" to Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Baru told this correspondent that Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, a senior member of the king's delegation, told the Prime Minister that Saudi Arabia's "doors were open" to India. Prince Bandar stated that Saudi Arabia had discovered a new India during King Abdullah's visit.

According to the "Delhi Declaration," the king's visit heralded a new era in India-Saudi Arabia relations and a landmark in the development of increased understanding and cooperation between the two countries and creation of a mutually beneficial partnership.

The document claimed that both countries were developing a "broad strategic vision" and were determined to "work together closely for the welfare and benefit of their peoples and for peace and stability in the region and the world."

The king and Dr. Singh agreed that exchanges of high-level bilateral visits and consultations "should be intensified" to expand the scope of bilateral cooperation and understanding.

Taking a strong stand against terrorism, the two sides agreed they "shall" make concerted efforts for an early realisation of the proposals to conclude a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which is before the United Nations General Assembly.

"Both sides affirmed the importance of stability in the oil market for the world economy. The Indian side expressed understanding and appreciation of the balanced petroleum policy of Saudi Arabia, which is considered a trusted and reliable source of oil supplies to international markets in general and the Indian market in particular," the document said.

They agreed to develop a "strategic energy partnership" based on complementarity and interdependence.

The elements of this partnership would include reliable, stable and increased volume of crude oil supplies through "evergreen" long-term contracts.

Agreeing to work together towards resolving outstanding conflicts in the world through peaceful means, the two sides stressed the importance of the Beirut Arab Peace Initiative and the "roadmap" on Palestine. "They realised that the complementarity between the two plans would invigorate the peace process in the Middle East [West Asia], and lead to the establishment of a viable and independent State of Palestine living in peace and prosperity within secure borders side by side with Israel."

On Iraq, the two sides hoped that the country would turn a new page in history that would assure its security, unity, territorial integrity and prosperity, as well as respect for its sovereignty and independence.


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