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India-Arab bond important, extremism a cause of concern: Sushma Swaraj

Thursday, 21 August 2014 - 3:41pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

Amid escalation in violence in a number of Gulf countries, India on Thursday expressed deep concern over the rise of fanaticism, extremism and terrorism in parts of the Arab region, saying they are tearing apart the fabric of societies as well as affecting regional stability. In an address at an event here, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj touched on a range of issues relating to Gulf nations and said India was looking at investments from the sizeable Sovereign Wealth Funds in the oil-rich countries which can prove to be a "game-changer" in India's quest for world-class infrastructure.

"Looking ahead, one can identify India's infrastructure sector as a major growth area for Arab investments. Our government has made infrastructure upgrade and the creation of smart cities major national priorities," she said launching the first India-League of Arab States Media Symposium here. Referring to violence in a number Gulf countries, Swaraj said "being a longstanding partner of the Arab world, we in India are also deeply concerned with the rise of fanaticism, extremism and terrorism in parts of the region." "We are concerned for the stability of these countries where terrorism and fanaticism are tearing apart the fabric of societies and also concerned over the spill-over effects on regional stability.

"This concern is but natural as the fates of our two regions are intertwined in many ways. Our national and energy interests are certainly important; but more important is the human bond," Swaraj said. Calling for deepening of trade ties, Swaraj said the possibilities of growth on both sides are "virtually limitless". A number of countries in the Gulf region including Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain have huge sovereign wealth funds. The Gulf region accounts for over 60 per cent of India's oil and gas requirements. Collectively the Arab world is India's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade increasing to over USD 180 billion in 2012-13. 

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