Indian PM Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed five bilateral agreements in areas of investment, tourism, housing and information and broadcasting on the 20th February during delegation-level talks led by the Saudi and Indian leaders.
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PM Modi posted a tweet after the arrival “India is delighted to welcome HRH Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”
He also acknowledged “India’s relations with Saudi Arabia have emerged as one of the defining bilateral relationships in India’s extended neighborhood,”
India is the fourth largest trading partner of Saudi, with bilateral trade reaching $27.5 billion. Saudi Arabia also contributes 20 percent of the crude oil that India requires.
Modi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed to step up anti-terror ‘pressure’ with India, and while he signed joint accords with Indian the leader on industry and culture, but there were no major deal announcements.
A memorandum of understanding was also signed on investing in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India to step up Saudi Arabia’s investments in energy, industry and mineral resources during Modi and the Crown Prince’s visit. “India has great potential for developing tourism, health and entertainment sectors, which are key areas under the Saudi Vision 2030,” he said. “India is every ready to complement the initiatives taken by the Saudi leadership to transform its economy.”
The Saudi party also confirmed the framework agreement on the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
Modi and the Crown Prince anticipated the investment opportunities for his country in India could exceed $100 billion over the next two years, without giving any details. “We understand that India has more than $100 billion in investment opportunities. We want to invest in a way that’s beneficial for both countries,” said Prince Mohammed during a joint press conference with the Indian PM.
A week before the official visit, the cabinet accredited the energy minister to inspect entering into an agreement to invest in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, which followed Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund becoming the first institutional investor in NIIF’s Master Fund in 2017 with a commitment of $1 billion. DP World Ltd., the Dubai-based port operator, and NIIF said last year they plan to jointly invest up to $3 billion in India.
“India is very strong in the area of IT. Saudi Arabia is currently developing its capabilities in the IT sector and this is one area where there could be a lot of opportunities for the two countries to co-operate,” the Saudi Crown Prince added.
He said he hoped to further strengthen trade and investments in India, following the series of agreements signed in 2016 during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the kingdom.
“We are currently diversifying in the petrochemicals sector and keen to increase our investments in this sector,” the Saudi Crown Prince said.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also kingdom’s Minister for Defence, while on the two-day visit, held meetings with India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.
Prince Mohammed’s visit to Delhi comes in the backdrop of the escalating tension between India and Pakistan following a suicide attack in Kashmir that left at least 40 paramilitaries dead.
PM Modi again slapped the “barbaric attack” last week as he said: “To tackle this menace effectively, we agreed that there is a need to increase all possible pressure on countries supporting terrorism in any way. It is extremely important to eliminate the terror infrastructure and stop support to terrorists and their supporters.”
The Saudi Crown Prince stated that terrorism and extremism are a shared danger to both the nations and Saudi Arabia will cooperate with India on every aspect, together with intelligence sharing. “Saudi Arabia shares the concerns of India on terrorism,” Prince Mohammed said.
PM Modi, while pointing out that the “world has taken note of the Pulwama attack”, stressed the need to destroy the infrastructure of terrorism and end its support system by giving strong punishment to the terrorists and their supporters.
In reply, the Saudi Crown Prince said that “terrorism and extremism are a common threat to both the nations and Saudi Arabia will cooperate with India on every aspect, including intelligence sharing. We will work with all the countries to ensure a brighter future for the coming generations.”