By Asim Kamal, Manama, Jan 23 (Press Trust of India) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived here today for the first ministerial meeting of the India-Arab League Cooperation Forum to deepen the country’s ties with the 22-member grouping amid tensions between regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Swaraj, who is here on a two-day visit, will also hold bilateral meetings with Foreign Ministers of a number of Arab League countries, including her Bahraini counterpart Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.
She will also call on Bahrain’s king Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa later today during the trip, which her second visit to Bahrain as the External Affairs Minister. She last visited Bahrain for a bilateral meeting in 2014.
The minister will attend an international air show here in which Tejas, India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, is participating. It is the first time Tejas is participating in an international air show.
The ministerial meeting tomorrow comes over a year after the two sides held their first Senior Officials Meeting in New Delhi in November 2014.
India and Arab League are expected to deliberate on the whole gamut of bilateral issues including trade and investment, energy and culture among others.
A number of wide-ranging issues from terrorism, security to tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the execution of a Shia cleric in the Kingdom are also expected to be discussed.
The Saudi-Iran spat could come up for discussion in terms of regional stability even as Iran is not part of the Arab League.
Saudi Arabia’s announcement of the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along with 46 others, garnered condemnation from Shiites across the region.
Swaraj’s visit here also assumes significance as the world is facing the challenge of terrorism with a spate of attacks like the one at the Pathankot air base earlier this month.
Anti-terror cooperation is expected to be a key area of collaboration between India and the Arab League.