http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?702684 Regional and global issues of mutual interest, including the Middle East peace process, are expected to top the agenda of President Pratibha Patil's 4-day visit to Syria, the first by an Indian head of state, that began today with an aim to give a fillip to bilateral ties. Patil, who arrived here from Dubai to a warm welcome after a five-day visit to the UAE, was received by Syrian Minister for Presidential Affairs Mansoor Azam. The President is visiting Syria at the invitation of her counterpart Basher al-Assad, who had paid a visit to India in 2008. A ceremonial reception will be given to her tomorrow at the Presidential palace after which there would be delegation-level talks. A state banquet would also be held in her honour. Patil would also hold talks with Syrian Prime Minister tomorrow Mohammad Naji Otri, apart from Al-Assad. Some agreements, including one on cultural exchanges, are expected to be signed during the visit. Patil would have discussions with the Syrian leadership on bilateral issues - political, economic and cultural. Both sides would also explore investment opportunities in each other's country. On the regional and international front, the Middle East peace process and Syria's relations with its neighbours are expected to be important segments of the President's discussions. Syria has generally been supportive of India's position on the Kashmir issue as also on its quest for permanent membership of a reformed UN Security Council. India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had paid a groundbreaking visit to Syria in 1957. Another Prime Ministerial visit was by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003. With its traditional support for the just Arab causes, India enjoys friendly political relations with Syria. New Delhi is also supportive of the Syrian demand for return of Golan heights to it by Israel. Observers say that the list of subjects, where common ground can be reached between Syria and India is long, ranging from collaboration on information technology and investment to development of scientific research, academic exchanges and cooperation on the Middle East peace process.