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India-Saudi Arabia signs annual Haj agreement

NEW DELHI(PTI): A delegation led by Union Minister of State for External Affairs General (retired) VK Singh on Tuesday visited Saudi Arabia for signing of Annual Haj Agreement for Haj 2015.

During his visit, The Minister met H.E Dr. Bandar Ibn Muhammad Hajjar, Saudi Minister of Haj in Jeddah and discussed issues pertaining to arrangements for Haj 2015. Following the discussion the Haj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia was signed.

The delegation included Ambassador of India Hamid Ali Rao, Chairman Haj Committee of India Qaisar Shamim, Joint Secretary (Haj), Ministry of External Affairs, Ajit Gupte, Consul General of India B.S. Mubarak, CEO Haj Committee of India Ataur Rahman, Consul Haj Noor Rahman Sheikh and representatives from Ministry of Civil Aviation.

During the interaction with the Haj Minister, General V.K. Singh expressed deep condolences on sad demise of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah and expressed best wishes for King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.

Singh also fondly recalled the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (then Crown Prince) in Brisbane (Australia) earlier on November 16, 2014.

The Haj quota for India for the year 2015 would be 1,36,020 and 1,00,020 pilgrims would come through Haj Committee of India while the remaining 36,000 would come through Private Tour Operators.

The two Ministers discussed various other Haj-related issues including need to make cooling system effective in Mina, better buses facilities for pilgrims to move between Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah, catering services to pilgrims and standardization of baggage.

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