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High-Stakes Talks Between PM Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Focus on Trade, Connectivity, and Defence

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud engaged in crucial discussions during the latter’s three-day State visit to India. The visit commenced with the G20 Summit in New Delhi, where both leaders explored a range of critical issues.

Trade, economy, defence, and cultural cooperation took center stage during their meeting at Delhi’s Hyderabad House. The highlight of the engagement was the co-chairing of the First Leaders’ Meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council, a significant bilateral agreement between India and Saudi Arabia that was initially signed in Riyadh in 2019.

This meeting allowed both leaders to evaluate the progress made by the two ministerial committees of the Strategic Partnership Council: the Political, Security, Social, and Cultural Cooperation Committee and the Economy and Investments Cooperation Committee. They also delved into various aspects of their bilateral relations, including political collaboration, security, defence, trade, economy, culture, and people-to-people connections. Moreover, they exchanged views on regional and international matters of shared concern.

India and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed a long-standing relationship marked by cordiality and collaboration, including extensive people-to-people connections. According to government data, the bilateral trade volume reached an all-time high of USD 52.75 billion during the fiscal year 2022-23.

During PM Modi’s visit to Riyadh in 2019, he highlighted the existence of a Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation (JCDC) between the two nations. This committee convenes regularly to explore areas of mutual interest and collaboration in the fields of defence and security.

Additionally, India and Saudi Arabia have emerged as significant trading partners, with India ranking as Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trading partner, and reciprocally, Saudi Arabia ranking as India’s fourth-largest. The energy sector remains a key focus area, with India importing substantial quantities of oil from Saudi Arabia.

The State visit marked Prince Salman’s second official visit to India. He received a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan and held discussions with PM Modi and other dignitaries. Prince Salman’s visit included a meeting with President Droupadi Murmu and culminated with his departure from New Delhi.

During the G20 Summit in New Delhi, Saudi Arabia joined several nations in signing the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor initiative. This ambitious project, announced by PM Modi and leaders from the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union, is seen as a potential alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Once completed, it is poised to serve as a modern-day Silk Road, promoting economic partnerships, political alliances, and cultural integration across continents.

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