India Business
Bahrain's crown prince coming to India
Mar 7, 2007 - 4:10:29 PM

New Delhi, March 7 - India and Bahrain, home to nearly 250,000-strong Indian diaspora, will cement their close ties when Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa comes here in the third week of March - his first trip to India.

The crown prince is expected around March 20, official sources told IANS. Some agreements to intensify economic ties are likely to be signed during the visit, the source added.

Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed has set the tone for the prince's forthcoming visit by describing it as 'historic and a landmark event'. The visit will see the opening of the Bahrain embassy in Delhi. Bahrain currently maintains a consulate general in Mumbai.

'The visit will be historic and a landmark event as it will be the crown prince's first ever visit to India,' Ahamed, who made an overnight stop in Bahrain en route to Tehran, said Tuesday.

'The opening of a full-fledged resident mission of Bahrain in Delhi is a welcome step which will contribute towards facilitating bilateral exchanges, visits, trade and movement of businessmen and professionals,' he added, according to the Gulf Daily News.

Given the presence of the large Indian community in Bahrain, the two countries plan to enhance air links between them. Air India Express, a low cost subsidiary of Air India, will start a flight to Bahrain March 25, which will increase the number of Air India flights to Bahrain from seven to 11 a week.

The Gulf region, home to over four million Indian diaspora, is one of India's major trading partners, with the current annual two-way non-oil trade estimated to be over $20 billion.

India will raise issues relating to working conditions of nearly 250,000 Indian workers living in Bahrain during the visit of the crown prince.

'Among the issues are the violation of job contracts in regard to salaries, poor living conditions, leave and terminal benefits, lack of institutional measures for rehabilitation, grant of voting rights to NRIs, improved facilities for professional education and simplification of the emigration procedures,' Ahamed told the Indian community.

'There has been considerable progress on several fronts while the ministries concerned and agencies are working actively towards resolving the remaining issues,' Ahamed told the Indian community.

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