India, Saudi Arabia to strengthen ties

To hold bilateral exchange programmes involving students and sportspersons

Indian youth delegation to visit Saudi Arabia in MarchAgree on establishing institutional contacts

Dubai: In a bid to strengthen socio-cultural ties, India and Saudi Arabia have decided to hold bilateral exchange programmes involving students, youths and sportspersons.

The decision was taken during a meeting between the visiting Indian delegation headed by Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Mani Shankar Aiyar and Saudi officials led by Prince Sultan bin Fahd. The two sides discussed ways of activating a memorandum of understanding signed last year during King Abdullah's visit to India.

To begin with, a 10-member Indian youth delegation will visit Saudi Arabia in March.

The two countries have also agreed on establishing institutional contacts between the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Youth Development and corresponding institutions of Saudi Arabia, officials said.

In this regard an expert team will visit Saudi Arabia in April.

In sports, the two sides decided to cooperate in training and group exchange programmes. The disciplines that were taken on priority were football, volleyball, basketball, handball, athletics and equestrian.

It was also decided that the Joint Committee (comprising experts from both sides) would meet in India in the first week of September to finalise the details of the exchange programme.

The Saudi side agreed to send its youth delegation to coincide with this meeting.

Mr. Aiyar is on a two-day visit to the Kingdom.

Prince Sultan also held a luncheon in honour of Mr. Aiyar on Thursday.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Aiyar recalled the historic visit of Saudi King Abdullah to India in January 2006 when a cooperation agreement in the field of youth and sports was signed that has laid a foundation for a meaningful collaboration between the two countries in these areas.

He gave an overview of the youth programmes in India and activities related to Nehru Yuvak Kendras and the Rajiv Gandhi Institute. The Minister also visited the Governorate of Muzahmia.

A delegation from the Governorate would visit either Faridabad or Mewat.

The Governor of Muzahmia, members of the Local Council and the Municipality of Muzahmia interacted with the Minister.

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