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Terror talks top Kalam roster

New Delhi, Oct. 17: Science and technology as well as interaction with students feature on A.P.J. Kalamís schedule as he makes his first foreign visit as President tomorrow. He heads to the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Bulgaria.

Diplomacy will top Kalamís agenda as the President seeks to cement Indiaís growing ties with the Emirates, emphasise its new interests in Sudan and renew old ties with Bulgaria.

Kalamís visit to the Gulf and North African countries is the first by an Indian President in 26 years. The last head of state to visit these nations was Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.

The President has ensured that he will have ample time for his areas of interest during his foreign tour. Kalam, who regularly interacts with students in the country, will meet over 1,000 Indian students in Dubai.

He will also address students at the University of Khartoum and meet the Sudanese alumni of Indian universities. Nearly 10,000 Sudanese have studied in Indian educational institutions and can serve as unofficial ambassadors for the country, helping to boost bilateral ties.

Delhi invested $700 million in Sudanís only oil field earlier this year.

Kalam is scheduled to visit Sofia University in the Bulgarian capital to address students and faculty members. He will visit important science and technology centres in all three countries.

The President will meet almost all the top Emirates leaders in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. But his counterpart Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan will be missing.

The UAE president is in London on a private visit, a foreign ministry spokesman briefing the media on Kalamís visit said.

The spokesman did not say so openly, but the Presidentís Emirates visit has assumed added importance since Abu Dhabi has agreed to cooperate more closely with Delhi in the fight against terror. Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani had visited the Gulf last year for discussions on this issue.

Three accords each are likely to be signed with Sudan and Bulgaria during Kalamís visit, including one on extradition with Sofia.

With energy diplomacy bringing India closer to Sudan, the agreements that are likely to be signed in Khartoum should help provide a framework for economic and commercial cooperation.

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