Ahamed holds talks with Saudi minister

Amidst anxieties about possible job loss for Indian workers in Saudi Arabia due to the new labour policy of that country, Nitaqat, Union minister of state for external affairs E. Ahamed held a meeting on Friday with Saudi deputy foreign minister Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Abdulla Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud on the sidelines of the 11th Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) ministerial meeting at Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Mr Ahamed later issued a press release stating that he had conveyed Indian workers’ anxieties about the issue to the Saudi minister and said Mr Al Saud had assured to give maximum consideration to the Indian workers. Mr Ahamed said the Prince had also agreed to take up the matter with the authorities concerned in Saudi Arabia soon after he returned to his home country.
The prince told Mr Ahamed that Saudi Arabia enjoyed good bilateral relationship with India and said his country valued the services of the Indian workers there. The Prince told Mr Ahamed that he had to further study the legal issues involved in it. He said it was for the Saudi labour ministry to find solution to the present issue.
Mr Ahamed in his statement appealed to the Indian workers in Saudi Arabia and their families back home not to panic over the issue. He said the Indian government had been watching the new developments and added that it was in touch with the Saudi government over the matter.
Meanwhile, Union overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi discussed the issue with External affairs minister Salman Khurshid on Friday. Mr Ravi, later when speaking to this newspaper, said that the Indian ambassador in Riyadh Hamid Ali Rao had been giving him regular reports on the matter. The ambassador has been visiting a few cities in Saudi to analyse the impact of nitaqat (employment reservation for Saudi citizens) on the Indian workers there.
Mr Ravi also called up Union minister of state for civil aviation, K.C. Venugopal on Friday. Mr Venugopal later told this newspaper that Air India had not reported any mass return of Indian workers from Saudi Arabia. He said his ministry has been in touch with the ministries of overseas Indian affairs and external affairs over the issue, besides the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia.

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