New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) In his first trip abroad since assuming charge as the Minister of State for External Affairs, M.J. Akbar will go on an official visit to Lebanon, Syria and Iraq from August 17 to 23, it was announced on Thursday.
Making the announcement at his weekly media briefing here, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that Akbar’s visit was aimed at strengthening “our mutually beneficial bilateral ties with the West Asia region”.
Swarup said that in Lebanon Akbar is scheduled to have extensive discussions with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, bilateral interaction with the President of the National Assembly Nabih Berry and will receive Director General of the Directorate General of General Security of Lebanon Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim apart from other dignitaries, academics and intellectuals.
Akbar in his discussions with the Lebanese leadership is expected to cover bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.
In Syria, Akbar will pay a courtesy call on President Bashar al-Assad and Prime Minister Emad Mohammad Deeb Khamis.
“He will have bilateral discussions with first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates H.E Walid Al-Moallem,” the spokesperson said.
“He will also meet the National Security Advisor Ali Mamlouk and interact with the Grand Mufti of Syria Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun during this visit. The discussions would focus on our bilateral cooperation and the unfolding security situation in the region.”
During his visit to Iraq, Akbar will hold discussions with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Eshaiqer Al-Jafari on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.
“Our time-tested, warm and friendly relations with Iraq are underpinned by historical and religious linkages, strong people-to-people contacts, our energy security quest and capacity-building cooperation,” Swarup said.
“The visit is expected to add further impetus to our bilateral engagement.,” he said.
“It will also provide an opportunity to meet with other senior leaders of Iraq, including religious leaders, and to convey India’s abiding commitment to the emergence of a stable, peaceful, united and democratic Iraq, which is in the interest of regional and global peace and security,” he added.