India, GCC eye strategic partnership in key areas RIYADH: India and the GCC will form an action plan for a strategic partnership to forge ahead in several areas of cooperation. This was decided at the final meeting of the India-GCC Strategic Partnership Study Group held in Riyadh. Indian Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad said that the meeting was successful. There was a similar meeting in Dubai two years ago; Saturday's meeting concluded with a set of decisions on security, defense, politics, employment of foreign labor, education, culture, economy and others areas of cooperation. â€œThe study was the outcome of years of research between the two groups,â€ said Ahmad, adding that it will be documented in book form. He also recalled the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the Kingdom which paved the way for the Riyadh Declaration. â€œIndia has always stood for the cause of the Arabs, particularly the issue of Palestine,â€ GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah said at the inaugural session of the meeting held at the GCC headquarters in Riyadh. The Indian team was led by Leela Ponappa, a former ambassador, former deputy security adviser and secretary to the National Security Council of India. Ambassador Khalid Al-Jandan, undersecretary for economic and cultural affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ahmad were present during the inaugural session of Saturday's meeting. Al-Attiyah said the meeting was held to explore new areas of cooperation in all areas. â€œAll countries in the GCC as well as India are willing to participate in projects that would be of mutual interest. India is a country with an abundance of skilled staff supported by a rich knowledge economy which could be harnessed by GCC countries for their progress and prosperity,â€ he said. The volume of trade exchange between India and GCC countries exceeded $64 billion in 2009. The GCC states import a variety of goods including agricultural commodities, while India imports oil and gas in return. The other members of the Indian side included professor Zikr Rahman, director of the India-Arab Cultural Center; A.K.Pasha, director of West Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University; Atul Aneja, Middle East correspondent for The Hindu in Dubai; M. Prasanth, director of the Institute of Defense Studies; Sameena Hamid, assistant professor at Jamia Millia Islamia; and N. Janardhan, a foreign affairs specialist. In a paper presented by Hamid, it was pointed out that energy security is important for India as well as GCC countries. Indiaâ€™s energy security challenge comes from its high import dependence for oil and gas needs. Oil and gas imports not only feed its domestic industries, but also its exports of petroleum products.