NEW DELHI, India, Jan 23 (AFP): Energy and economic ties between the world's top oil exporter and energy-hungry India will top the bill during Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's visit here this week, officials said Monday.
"Energy constitutes the core of our bilateral relationship," Talmiz Ahmed, a senior Indian government official told the news agency.
"It is the number one supplier of oil, meeting 26 per cent of our requirements, and is likely to remain so for several years to come," Ahmed said.
India, which imports 70 per cent of its energy requirements, would like is to transform the buyer-seller relationship in energy to one of investment and joint ventures, he said.
"This constitutes the concrete basis for carrying the energy relationship forward."
Ahead of the visit -- the first by a Saudi monarch to India in half a century -- King Abdullah told India's NDTV news channel that Riyadh viewed India as a key future oil market.
"With regards to the export of crude oil to India, we would like to provide India's requirement of energy in the future," the monarch said in the interview telecast Monday.
Saudi Arabia ambassador to India, Saleh M. Al-Ghamdi, at the weekend invited Indian oil firms to partner with Saudi companies "to bid for gas exploration and refinery projects in third countries."
King Abdullah, who arrives in India tomorrow (Tuesday) from China as part of a four-nation Asian tour, will be the chief guest at India's annual Republic Day parade Thursday.