Investment, security to top agenda during Saudi Crown Prince India visit

Counter-terrorism, investment and energy security are expected to top the agenda for discussions during the two-day trip.

:: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to arrive in India on Tuesday as part of his Asian tour, which kick started in Pakistan and will end in China at the end of the week.

Counter-terrorism, investment and energy security are expected to top the agenda for discussions during the two-day trip.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in New Delhi said that the Crown Prince’s visit to India is a “historic opportunity” to expand collaboration in all sectors, according to Indian media outlets. They also reported that a ‘Strategic Partnership Council’ is set to be created during the visit, which will cover critical areas of mutual interest.

These sectors will reportedly include the areas of investment, energy security, infrastructure and defense where several MoUs are expected to be signed.

A statement by India’s Ministry of External Affairs read that the country and Saudi Arabia enjoy “close and friendly relations anchored in mutually beneficial partnership and extensive people to people contacts.”

“About 2.7 million strong and vibrant Indian community forms the largest expatriate group in Saudi Arabia. Their positive and highly-appreciated contribution to the development of their host country has been an important anchor of bilateral engagement. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also facilitates Hajj pilgrimage to over 175,000 Indians every year,” the ministry stated.

“In recent years, there has been significant progress in bilateral cooperation in key areas of mutual interest, including energy security, trade and investment, infrastructure, defense and security,” the statement read.

Saudi-Indian bilateral trade was estimated at $27.48 billion during the year 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia India’s fourth largest trading partner. Saudi Arabia contributes about 20 percent of India’s crude requirements.

Besides holding talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Saudi Crown Prince will also meet President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu during his two-day visit.

Modi had visited Saudi Arabia in April of 2016, where the two countries agreed to deepen their strategic partnership.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan signed seven MoUs worth $20 billion between the two countries across several sectors including oil, mining and energy.

The deals were signed on Sunday upon the arrival of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Islamabad on the first stop of his three-nation Asian tour on Sunday.

In a joint statement on Monday released after the conclusion of the Crown Prince’s state visit to Pakistan, both countries agreed that dialogue with India is the only way to ensure peace and stability in the region to resolve outstanding issues.

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