Monday, November 11, 2013

India, Kuwait discuss energy, investment; ink five pacts

India and Kuwait Friday discussed collaboration in petrochemicals, and Kuwaiti investments in infrastructure in India as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with visiting Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah here.

Both the leaders held extensive talks on trade, energy and investment and also on labour laws after which both sides inked five pacts, including on the transfer of prisoners and cooperation in the field of culture and education.

Noting that Kuwait is the fourth largest supplier of crude oil to India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he had discussed "the development of a more strategic partnership in the energy sector between our two countries".

"This can be done through long-term supply contracts on mutually beneficial terms and the establishment of upstream and downstream joint ventures in the petroleum and petrochemical sectors. India has proposed several specific projects for investments by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation," the prime minister said, adding he was "encouraged" by the response of Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber and hopeful some of the proposals for cooperation could be given concrete shape soon.

The discussion on collaboration in energy comes in the backdrop of Kuwait investing over US$ 100 billion to refurbish its oil sector and in building new refineries, which provides big opportunities for cooperation between the two sides.

The prime minister said India offers attractive investment opportunities for Kuwait in the infrastructure sector. A delegation of the Kuwait Investment Authority is expected to make an early visit to India in this context, he said.

India is hoping to tap the $350 billion Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund, which is increasing by US$ 25 million every year.

The prime minister also conveyed the keenness of Indian companies to participate in infrastructure projects under Kuwait's Development Plan.

"His Highness has assured me that Indian companies are welcome in Kuwait and that they will continue to enjoy fair and equal opportunities there," the prime minister said.

With over 700,000 Indians working in Kuwait, the prime minister said he had requested the Kuwaiti prime minister "for the continued support of the Kuwaiti leadership to ensure that the full protection of Kuwaiti laws and labour welfare measures is available to them."

Around 5,000 Indian expatriates have been deported so far this year from Kuwait for not possessing proper work documents.

Both sides also shared views on developments in West Asia and the Gulf.

On Syria, both sides "recognize the importance of a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict, and hope that the Geneva-II conference will contribute towards this objective", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

Both the leaders discussed security cooperation and agreed that countering radicalism and extremism is a common challenge. They agreed to strengthen cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism through institutionalised dialogue and training.

In his banquet speech, the prime minister said the engagement "is marked by a deep sense of comfort and enduring goodwill between our people".

"Your present visit has added fresh winds to our sails. We value your contribution to the cause of peace in the region, and we look forward to Kuwait's leadership in seeking solutions to the region's many challenges," he said

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