By Liza Mohd in New Delhi, India
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam arrived in New Delhi, the capital of India, yesterday afternoon for a four-day State Visit to enhance bilateral ties between the countries.
Upon arrival at the airfield of Indian Air Force Base, Palam, New Delhi, the ruler was greeted by the Chief Protocol of India, Mr Sunil Lal, and the Brunei High Commissioner to India Haji Sidek bin Haji Ali.
Present to receive His Majesty was the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, E Ahmed, as the minister-in-attendance.
Accompanying His Majesty during the visit are Second Minister of Finance Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim; Second Minister of Foreign Affairs Pehin Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng; Deputy Ministers and other government officials.
His Majesty was driven to the ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel where the ruler will receive in audience today several state ministers and the deputy president of India.
The monarch is also scheduled to meet the Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh for talks at his official residence today.
His Majesty will call on President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition L K Advani and Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed.
His Majesty will leave for Bangalore on Thursday and is expected to tour facilities at the Parachute Regimental Training Centre and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The royal visit will be augmented with the signing of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) and three Memorandum of Understanding in Culture, Arts and Sports; cooperation in Information Communication Technology (ICT) and the establishment of a joint trade committee.
A signing ceremony will also take place to renew the agreement on the establishment of a Telemetry Tracking and Tele Command Station, established since August 5, 1997.
The signing of MoUs and agreements will take place on Friday in the absence of His Majesty.
Brunei's close relationship with India reflects through the export of crude oil to India since 2003 and Brunei's import of vegetable products, minerals, machinery, chemicals, food and textiles from India.
Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd recorded total sales of 2.3 million barrels of crude last year to India and currently there are about 8,000 Indian nationals residing in Brunei, working in various sectors, particularly in health and education.
- Borneo Bulletin
(21st May 2008)