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Assad Becomes First Syrian Leader to Visit India in 3 Decades

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in India on the first visit by a Syrian head of state to the country in three decades.

Mr. Assad is expected to spend his five-day visit discussing trade and energy issues, as well as the Middle East peace process.

He arrived in New Delhi Tuesday with his wife and a large delegation of foreign and economic officials.

The Syrian president is set to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday. They are expected to sign an agricultural deal and an agreement to avoid double taxation in both countries.

Mr. Assad also will take time off from official business to visit the famed Taj Mahal.

Ahead of the president's visit, Syria's expatriates minister, Bouthaina Shaaban said Damascus hoped India's growing relations with Israel would not be at the expense of its relations with Arab countries.

Syria and Israel announced last month that they have resumed indirect peace after an eight-year break.

The last Syrian president to travel to India was Mr. Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad, who went in 1978.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.