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Jordan king arrives on state visit

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Defence and security cooperation will be high on the agenda during Jordan King Abdullah II’s three-day state visit to India beginning on Tuesday.

But what could turn out to be more important will be his special address on Islamic heritage and promoting moderation at the Vigyan Bhavan on Thursday at which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be present.

A translation of a book “A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam — the Essence of Islam in 12 versus from the Quran” will also be released at the event, being organised by the India Islamic Cultural Centre.

The king, a 41st generation direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad, is known for his global initiative to fight deradicalisation and terrorism and is also custodian of the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, located in the Old City of Jerusalem.

India is all set to roll out the red carpet and sign a slew of pacts with Jordan during the visit as the Modi government is keen to woo the Arab nation that has traditionally been a Pakistan ally. India considers Jordan an ‘oasis of stability and harmony” in conflict-ridden West Asia, official sources said.

Apart from bilateral issues, the Palestine question, ways to deal with terrorism, radicalisation and extremism are likely to figure prominently during PM Modi’s talks with the king, sources added.

The Arab leader’s India visit comes nearly three weeks after Modi visited Jordan as part of his recent trip to West Asia, including to Palestine. Modi’s visit to Jordan was the first bilateral trip by an Indian PM.

Jordan extended exceptional courtesies to Modi with the King receiving the Indian leader at his residence. Usually he receives visiting PMs at his office but made an exception in the case of Modi. The king also provided his own helicopter to the Indian PM for making his visit to Palestine, a gesture which was appreciated by the Indian side.

Sources said the two countries were expected to ink agreements to expand cooperation in key sectors including health care and IT and will look to finalise a framework pact for defence and security cooperation.