PM Modi in Saudi Arabia

Joint Statement on Visit of Prime Minister of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

October 29, 2019

At the invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Prime Minister of the Republic of India His Excellency Mr.Narendra Modi paid an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 29 October 2019.

The two sides held bilateral talks during which they reviewed the historical and close relations that bind the two friendly countries and their peoples. They exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. They underlined the relations of friendship and partnership embodied in economic, social, cultural and civilizational ties between the people of the two countries, and the great common opportunities that provide a strong momentum for the development of relations between the two friendly countries.

The two sides re-affirmed their deep commitment to strengthen the strategic partnership envisaged in the ‘Riyadh Declaration’ of March 2010, which was reiterated during the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to India in February 2014, the visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Mr.Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in April 2016, and the visit ofHis Royal Highness Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence to New Delhi in February 2019.

The two sides expressed satisfaction at the establishment of Strategic Partnership Council between the two countries and the signing of its founding document by His Royal Highness Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence from the Saudi side, and the Hon’ble Prime Minister from the Indian side, and their satisfaction at the agreements and memorandums of understanding exchanged during the visit between the Government and private entities in both countries.

Both sides expressed appreciation for the progress of bilateral relationship in political, economic, security, defence, manpower and people to people exchanges, in recent years, which have strengthened the bilateral relations. They expressed satisfaction at the high-level consultation and coordination between the two countries on regional and international issues of mutual interest, in the framework of their responsibility towards promoting peace, stability and security in the world.

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence met with the Hon’ble Prime Minister of the Republic of India. The two leaders held bilateral discussions, during which they appreciated the growing relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Both leaders praised the progress made in the bilateral cooperation in diverse fields since the visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister of the Republic of India to Riyadh in April 2016, and the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence to India in February 2019, which deepened the strategic partnership and strengthened the cooperation between the two countries in various fields for the good of both the friendly countries and peoples.

The two sides discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest,and reiterated their categorical rejection of all forms of interference in the internal affairs of countries, and the need for the international community to fulfill its responsibilities towards preventing any attacks on the sovereignty of States.They stressedthe Security Council Resolution (2254) with regard to the situation in Syria, and emphasized the importance of preserving the unity of Yemen and achieving its security and stability, and the importance of a political solution to the Yemeni crisis on the basis of the GCC initiative,the outcomes of the Yemeni National Dialogue and the Security Council Resolution (2216). Both sides expressed hope for achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in Palestine based on the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant UN resolutions, to guarantee the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and the establishment of their independent state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

The two sides agreed on the importance of bilateral engagement to promote ways to ensure the security and safety of waterways in the Indian Ocean region and the Gulf region from the threat and dangers thatmay affect the interests of the two countries including their national security.

The two sidesstressed that the extremism and terrorism threaten all nations and societies. They rejected any attempt to link this universal phenomenon to any particular race, religion or culture. Both sides expressed their rejection of all terrorist acts and stressed the need to prevent access to weapons including missiles and drones to commit terrorist acts against other countries.

The Indian side condemned the terrorist acts against civilian installations in the Kingdom. Both sidescalled for closer cooperation in the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center, and also agreed on strengthening cooperation in combating terrorist operations, exchange of information, capacity building and strengthening of cooperation in combating transnational crimes,within the framework of the existing bilateral security cooperation

The two sides noted the continued positive economic transformation in both countries and stressed the importance of expanding the trade and investment ties in order to advance the strategic cooperation. They expressed happiness with the positive trend in the bilateral trade over the recent years and reaffirmed the further deepening of trade and investment cooperation between the two countries under the Vision 2030 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.The two sides urged the business communities in the two countries to utilize the investment opportunities in both countries, especially in the fields of infrastructure, mining, energy including renewables, agriculture, technology transfer, and in the areas of skilled human resources in information technology, electronics and telecommunications.

During the visit, a number of MoUs were signed in several areas, including Energy, Civil Aviation, Security Cooperation, Defence, launch of RuPAY Cards and regulation of medical products to further strengthen cooperation across the sectors.

At the end of the visit, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India expressed his gratitude to the Government and people of Saudi Arabia for the warm hospitality extended to him and the accompanying delegation.
He affirmed India’s great welcome and support for the Kingdom’s forthcoming Presidency of the G20in 2020, and that he looks forward to participate in the next summit of the leaders of the G20 countries to be held in Riyadh.He praised the great efforts being exerted by the Kingdom within the framework of the G20.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques expressed his best wishes for the health and happiness of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, and for the progress and prosperity of the friendly Indian people.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques welcomed the invitation extended to him by the Hon’ble Prime Minister to visit India, to complete the consultations and discuss matters of bilateral cooperation and regional and international issues of mutual interest, to serve the interests of the two friendly countries and their peoples.

Riyadh
29 October 2019

 

List of MoUs signed

Sl.No Name of Agreement/ MoUs Signatory from India Signatory from Saudi Arabia
1 Strategic Partnership Council Agreement Prime Minister of India HRH Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence.
2 MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Renewable Energy between Saudi Ministry of Energy and Ministry of New & Renewable Energy of India Dr. Ausaf Sayeed,
Ambassador of India to KSA
HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud – Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia
3 Agreement on Security Cooperation Mr. T.S. Tirumurti,
Secretary (ER ), MEA
HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif Al Saud – Minister of Interior
4 MoU for Cooperationin the field of combating illicit trafficking and smuggling of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and chemical precursors. Dr. Ausaf Sayeed,
Ambassador of India to KSA
HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif Al Saud – Minister of Interior
5 MoU between Saudi General Authority of Military Industries (GAMI) and Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence concerning collaboration in military acquisition, industries, research, development and technology Mr. T.S. Tirumurti,
Secretary, Economic Relations (ER ), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)
HE Ahmad Al-Ohali, Governor, General Authority of Military Industries.
6 MoU for Cooperation in the field of Civil Aviation Dr. Ausaf Sayeed,
Ambassador of India to KSA
HE Abdulhadi Al-Mansouri, President, GACA
7 MoU between Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) for Cooperation in the field of medical products regulations Mr. T.S. Tirumurti,
Secretary (ER ), MEA
HE Dr Hisham Al Jadhey, CEO, SFDA
8 Letter of Intent between Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monshaat) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, of the Republic of India Dr. Ausaf Sayeed,
Ambassador of India to KSA
Engineer Saleh Al-Rasheed, Governor, Small and Medium Development Authorities.
9 Cooperation Programme between Foreign Service Institute, MEA and Prince Saud Al Faisal Institute of Diplomatic Studies (IDS) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia Dr. Ausaf Sayeed,
Ambassador of India to KSA
Dr Abdallah Bin Hamad Al Salamah, Director-General, Prince Saud Al Faisal Institute for Diplomatic Studies
10 MoU between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL) and Saudi Aramco. Mr. HPS Ahuja,
CEO&MD, ISPRL
HE Ahmad Al-Subayae, Vice-President, ARAMCO
11 MoU for Cooperation between National Stock Exchange (NSE) and Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) Mr. Vikram Limaye,
MD & CEO, National Stock Exchange
Engineer Khaled Al-Hassan, CEO, Saudi Stock Exchange(Tadawul)
12 MoU between National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and Saudi Payments Mr. Arif Khan,
Chief Digital Officer, National Payments Corporation of India
Ziyad Al Yusuf, MD, Saudi Payment

Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Saudi Arabia MBS today signed Strategic Partnership Council Agreement. As per this agreement, a higher institutional mechanism for strategic partnership council at the level of Prime Minister and Crown Prince has been formed to regularly monitor the progress in furtherance of strategic partnership of both countries.

Under its Vision – 2030 Saudi Arabia has selected eight countries for forging strategic partnership. These include India, China, the UK, the United States, France, Germany, South Korea and Japan. Since the visit of His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince to India in February 2019 there has been considerable progress in a range of areas.

PM addresses FII

 

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi delivered a keynote address at Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that his aim was to empower the poorest of the poor and ensure they lead a life of dignity. He said  “I am always thinking- how can India contribute to global good.” He added that whatever we are doing in India will strengthen global initiatives too. Take for instance our aim to end TB in 2025, before the global target of 2030. When India succeeds, the world will be a healthier place.

PM calls on Saudi King

PM Narendra Modi meets King Abdullah II of Jordan in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met King of Saudi Arabia, His Majesty Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh today. He is one of the most widely respected leaders. Prime Minister said that they discussed multiple aspects relating to further boosting cooperation with Saudi Arabia.

 

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi met King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan His Majesty Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein today on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The two leaders exchanged views on strengthening bilateral relations, including MoUs and Agreements signed during His Majesty’s visit to India from 27 February -01 March 2018. They discussed the Middle East Peace Process and other regional developments. Both leaders also discussed cooperation in counter-terrorism.
Historical links, cultural affinities and people-to-people contacts between India and Jordan have existed since times immemorial. Prime Minister’s visit to Jordan and King’s visit to India in 2018 have imparted a new momentum in our bilateral relations that are marked by mutual respect and understanding on various bilateral, regional and multilateral issues.
Jordan side statement

His Majesty King Abdullah met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Riyadh on Tuesday and discussed bilateral relations and the latest regional developments.

During the meeting, held on the sidelines of King Abdullah’s participation in the third Future Investment Initiative 2019 forum, organised by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, discussions covered opportunities for cooperation between Jordan and India.

His Majesty and Prime Minister Modi stressed the importance of holding meetings for the joint Jordanian-Indian committee soon, to come up with an institutionalised approach for cooperation in economic, commercial, investment, technical, ICT, and industry sectors.

The two sides agreed that officials in Jordan and India should set a programme for economic cooperation within a defined timeframe.

During the meeting, the King highlighted Jordan’s economic programme, and Prime Minister Modi expressed India’s keenness to bolster economic cooperation with Jordan and to contribute to the Kingdom’s programme.

The meeting also covered efforts to reach political solutions to crises in the Middle East, in addition to regional and international efforts to fight terrorism within a holistic approach.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Adviser to His Majesty for Communication and Coordination Bisher Khasawneh, Adviser to His Majesty for Policies and Media Kemal Al Nasser, and Planning Minister and Minister of State for Economic Affairs Mohamad Ississ attended the meeting.

PM’s interview with Arab News

The signing of the agreement on the Strategic Partnership Council by India and Saudi Arabia would strengthen the already robust relations between the two countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

Prime Minister who is visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was speaking to the Arab News.

This is second visit of Prime Minister Modi to the Kingdom in three years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the two countries have been working together within the G20 to reduce inequality and promote sustainable development.

Saying stable oil prices are crucial for the growth of the global economy, he praised the Kingdom’s role as an important and reliable source of India’s energy requirements.

Talking about the excellent personal relations between him and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia HRH Mohammad Bin Salman, the Prime Minister said, “Since my first visit to the Kingdom in 2016, I have personally witnessed a remarkable growth in our bilateral relations. I have met His Royal Highness (HRH) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman five times. I recall with warmth my previous meetings with him, and look forward to meeting him again during this visit.
I am confident that under the leadership of His Majesty King Salman and HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, bilateral relations between India and Saudi Arabia will only grow stronger.”

Prime Minister said, “Neighbourhood First” continues to be the guiding vision for my government’s foreign policy. India’s relations with Saudi Arabia are one of the most important bilateral relationships in our extended neighbourhood.”

On the agreement on Strategic Partnership Council which is going to be signed during this visit, he said, “will begin a new era of cooperation across sectors. Our ties across various dimensions such as trade, investment, security and defence cooperation are robust and deep, and will only strengthen further.”

“I believe that Asian powers like India and Saudi Arabia share similar security concerns in their neighbourhood. In that respect, I am happy that our cooperation, particularly in the field of counterterrorism, security and strategic issues, is progressing very well. My national security adviser just visited Riyadh for a very productive visit.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India and Saudi Arabia have a Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation that holds regular meetings and that the two nations have identified a number of areas of mutual interest and cooperation in the field of defence and security.

“We are also in the process of entering into agreements on security cooperation, collaboration in defence industries, and also agreed to hold a comprehensive security dialogue mechanism between the two countries”, he said.

On the question of turmoil in several regions of West Asia, the Prime Minister called for ‘a balanced approach to resolve the conflicts, while respecting the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s internal matters’.

He said, “India shares excellent bilateral relations with all the countries in the region, and a very large Indian diaspora, numbering over 8 million, resides in the region. A dialogue process that encourages the participation of all stakeholders is important to bring peace and security to this very important region.”

On his outlook on the current global economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The global economic outlook is strongly dependent on the path chartered by the large developing countries such as India. As I mentioned in my speech at the UN General Assembly in September, we sincerely believe that we need collective efforts, for the growth of all, with everyone’s trust.”

He said, “Economic uncertainty is an offshoot of unbalanced multilateral trade systems. Within the G20, India and Saudi Arabia have been working together to reduce inequality and promote sustainable development. I am happy to note that Saudi Arabia will be hosting the G20 Summit next year and India will host it in 2022, which is also the 75th anniversary of our independence.”

On the question of the current sluggishness in the Western Economies and the role of India and Saudi Arabia in such a scenario, the Prime Minister said, “India has undertaken many reforms to create a business-friendly environment, and to ensure that we remain a major driver of global growth and stability. Our reforms for ease of doing business and introducing investor-friendly initiatives have contributed to improving our position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index from 142 in 2014 to 63 in 2019.”

“A number of major flagship initiatives, like Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities and Startup India, are offering a lot of opportunities to foreign investors. Similarly, I am happy to note that Saudi Arabia too has embarked upon a reform program as part of their Vision 2030.”

On the long term energy relation with Saudi Arabia, which is the largest Oil supplier to India, he said, “India imports around 18 percent of its crude oil from the Kingdom, making it the second-largest source of crude oil for us. From a purely buyer-seller relationship, we are now moving toward a closer strategic partnership that will include Saudi investments in downstream oil and gas projects.”

“We value the Kingdom’s vital role as an important and reliable source of our energy requirements. We believe that stable oil prices are crucial for the growth of the global economy, particularly for developing countries. Saudi Aramco is participating in a major refinery and petrochemical project on India’s west coast. We are also looking forward to the participation of Aramco in India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves.”

On the question whether India would like Saudi Arabia’s participation in the massive Smart City projects announced by the Government, Prime Minister Modi said, “One of the major areas of cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia is in investments in our infrastructure projects. During his visit to India in February 2019, the crown prince had indicated an intent to invest in excess of $100 billion in India across various sectors.”

“We welcome greater Saudi investments in our infrastructure projects, including the Smart Cities program. We also welcome Saudi interest in investing in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.”

Talking about the areas other than energy, in which India and Saudi Arabia can cooperate, the Prime Minister said, “I am happy to share with you that during my visit this time, India and Saudi Arabia plan to enter into agreements in various areas, including defense, security, renewable energy etc.”

“Other major initiatives include the proposal to launch the RuPay card in the Kingdom, which will facilitate payments and remittances by the Indian diaspora; integration of the e-Migrate and e-Thawtheeq portals, which will facilitate the process of migration of Indian labor into the Kingdom; and an agreement on training diplomats in our respective academies.”

“India is known for its world-class capacity-building centers, and there are many initiatives to provide training to the Saudi youth in different fields. We are also discussing mutual cooperation in the field of space research.”

In his message to the Indian Diaspora in Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister said, “Nearly 2.6 million Indians have made Saudi Arabia their second home, contributing to its growth and development. Many Indians also visit the Kingdom every year for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage, and for business purposes.”

He said, “My message to my fellow citizens is that your country is proud of the place that you have made for yourself in the Kingdom, and your hard work and commitment have helped to generate a lot of goodwill for the overall bilateral relationship.”

“I am confident that you will continue to remain the binding force in our ties with the Kingdom, and further contribute to the strengthening of the historic ties between the two countries, which are based on people-to-people contacts over several decades.”

During the present visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have bilateral discussions with King Salman and delegation-level talks with the crown prince. These discussions will be in addition to Modi delivering the keynote address at the third Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, widely seen as the most important economic forum in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit is expected to further strengthen and expand bilateral ties in various areas such as security and strategic cooperation, defence, energy security, renewable energy, investments, trade and commerce, small and medium enterprises, agriculture, civil aviation, infrastructure, housing, financial services, training and capacity building, culture and people-to-people engagement. Nearly a dozen government-to-government agreements related to these areas are expected to be signed, as well as several government-to-business agreements.

One of the most important outcomes of the visit is expected to be the establishment of a Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) between the two countries. India will become the fourth country with which the Kingdom has formed a strategic partnership, the others being the UK, France and China.
The SPC will have two parallel tracks: Political, security, culture and society, headed by both countries’ foreign ministers; and economy and investment, headed by India’s commerce and industry minister and the Saudi energy minister.

Energy security is one of the prime areas of India’s engagement with Saudi Arabia. New Delhi appreciates the Kingdom’s vital role as a reliable source for India’s long-term energy supplies; the Kingdom supplies 18 percent of India’s crude oil requirements and 30 percent of its liquefied petroleum gas needs. Both countries are keen to transform the buyer-seller relationship in this sector into a much broader strategic partnership based on mutual complementarity and interdependence.

 

 

Ceremonial welcome accorded to PM Modi on his arrival at Riyadh airport

Programme of PM in Riyadh tomorrow on 29 October 2019, Tuesday

1030- Call on by H.R.H. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, Minister of Energy

1050- Call on by H.H. Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs

1110- Call on by H.E. Mr. Ahmad bin Sulaiman Alrajhi, Minister of Labour & Social Development

1130- Call on by H.E. Mr. Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al Fadley Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture

1400- Lunch hosted by H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

1450- Meeting with H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

1520- Signing of Strategic Partnership Council Agreement & Exchange of Agreements

1730- Keynote address at FII followed by interaction with Moderator

1900- Meeting with H.R.H. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

2000- Dinner hosted by H.R.H. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

2215 Emplane for Delhi

*All time local, approx.*

Earlier updates:

New Delhi: Presented here is the briefing of Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India to announce Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia scheduled to take place on 28-29 October. Prime Minister Shri Modi will address the third edition of Future investment summit (FII) in Riyadh on 29 October. PM Modi will hold talks with King and Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia. MEA said Saudi is meeting our energy requirements in a reliable manner. Joint India-Saudi Naval exercises is scheduled in December 2019. MEA said India will launch RuPay card in Saudi Arabia which Will help Indian Haj pilgrims. Saudi Arabia is the 3rd country in the Gulf to get RuPau card facility after UAE, Bahrain, MEA said while also adding that India is training Saudi Defence personnel. Saudi Arabia cadet officers are being trained in Pune, Delhi and also 26 Saudi officer are attending a course in Gujarat forensic sciences university. India Saudi Strategic Partnership Council will meet every 2 years, MEA said.

MEA briefing

Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi is paying an official visit to Saudi Arabia on October 29, 2019 at the invitation of King of Saudi Arabia, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud.

Prime Minister will be attending the third session of the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh on 29th October, 2019 where he will deliver the keynote address. There will also be a bilateral segment to his visit where he will meet His Majesty, the King as well as hold delegation level talks with His Royal Highness, Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

Prime Minister will reach Riyadh late night on October 28, 2019. The next day there will be calls on the Prime Minster by few Saudi ministers. This will be followed by a banquet lunch by His Majesty, the King. Prime Minister will have a bilateral meeting with His Majesty the King, where the agreement on the Strategic Partnership Council will be signed. There will also be separate delegation level talks with His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Later that afternoon Prime Minister will be addressing the FII Plenary session. This will be followed by a banquet dinner hosted by His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince. Prime Minister will be leaving for Delhi the same night.

The FII is organized by the Kingdom’s Sovereign Wealth Fund – The Public Investment Fund. The forum is also popularly referred to as the Davos in the Desert and is intended to project the Kingdom as the future investment hub in the region.

The first two editions were held in 2017 and 2018. The FII session is organized under the Vision 2030 which is a blueprint for economic transformation of Saudi Arabia through diversification of its oil based economy and is aimed at working alongside global strategic partners and investment manager. Several initiatives are being undertaken by Saudi Arabia to fulfill this vision. Further, Saudi Arabia will also be chairing the G20 next year.

The foundation for a more robust strategic investment was laid during the visit of Prime Minister of India to Saudi Arabia in 2016 when His Majesty, the King also conferred the highest civilian award on him, namely King Abdul Aziz Sash, signifying the importance Saudi Arabia attaches to our relationship. During the recent visit of His Royal Highness, Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to India in February 2019 the relationship received a further fillip when the two sides agreed to establish a higher institutional mechanism of Strategic Partnership Council at the level of Prime Minster and Crown Prince to regularly monitor the progress in furtherance of our strategic partnership. This agreement will be signed during the current visit.

Under its Vision – 2030 Saudi Arabia has selected eight countries for forging strategic partnership. These include India, China, the UK, the United States, France, Germany, South Korea and Japan. Since the visit of His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince to India in February 2019 there has been considerable progress in a range of areas.

Our collaboration with Saudi Arabia on the energy front has intensified further and the two sides are set to finalize and move ahead on the west coast refinery in Raigad district of Maharashtra which will involve investments from Saudi’s Aramco, UAE’s ADNOC and Indian public sector oil companies. This will be the single largest Greenfield refinery in India.

We also hope to sign a MoU on a joint venture between Indian Oil Middle East with Al-Jeri Company of Saudi Arabia for downstream cooperation for inter-alia setting up retail outlets in Saudi Arabia. Energy security has been the main area of India’s engagement with Saudi Arabia. We are well on our way to transforming the buyer-seller relationship in this sector into a much larger strategic partnership. We deeply appreciate the fact that they have been meeting our energy requirements on a reliable and sustainable basis. We have also invited the Saudi side to participate in India’s strategic petroleum reserves and we hope to finalize the MoU during this visit.

During the visit we also hope to finalize the investment of Saudi Arabia in our National Infrastructure Investment Fund. We are in the process of finalizing the details. We have signed agreements on general category of workers as well as for the workers under the domestic sector to ensure their welfare by regulating their terms and conditions of employment. The proposed alignment of our respective e-Migrate systems will further provide safeguards on their employment conditions. We hope to launch the integration of our e-Migrate and Saudi portals during this visit.

The bilateral discussion on civil aviation have taken place recently between the two sides and I am happy that there has been a broad agreement to enhance the number of flights between the two countries in phases keeping in mind interest of our carriers. We hope to sign MoU on this enhanced quota during the visit. It will be recalled that we had given an increase of 8000 seats per week in February 2019 during the visit of His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince. We are also looking at enhancing cooperation in renewable energy. The Saudi side has earlier invested in a wind energy power project in Bhuj, Gujarat for 300 MW. We will look at enhanced cooperation and hope to conclude a MoU on renewable energy during this visit.

India and Saudi Arabia are looking at closer cooperation in the area of defense industries. We have had the visit of the Saudi General Authority of Military Industry a few months ago where they met representatives of Indian defense industry. Indian defense companies also visited Saudi Arabia subsequently. The first India-Saudi Arabia joint naval exercises will be held towards the end of December 2019 – beginning of January 2020. Needless to say this is a very significant development.

Saudi Arabia is the destination of Indian Muslims who go there for performing annual Haj and Umrah. On the request of Prime Minister Modi, His Majesty, the King has agreed to increase the Haj quota for 2019 from 1,75,025 to 2,00,000. This has immediately been implemented this year itself and we appreciate this gesture. Besides Haj more than three hundred thousand Indians visit for Umrah every year.

Saudi Arabia has released nearly 450 Indian prisoners already as agreed to during the visit of His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince to India in February this year. An MoU is likely to be signed during the visit to launch the Rupay card in Saudi Arabia which will be very useful for not only the large Indian community but also Haj and Umrah pilgrims.

India and Saudi Arabia enjoy historic people to people contacts. Saudi Arabia hosts a 2.6 million Indian community which has been living in harmony and contributing to the development and progress of Saudi Arabia. Indians in Saudi Arabia send back remittances to the tune of $11 billion or more annually. India and Saudi Arabia signed during February 2019 MoU on cooperation in the area of tourism. Saudi Arabia has recently opened its door for tourism which will further strengthen these relations. India has extended e-Visa facility to Saudi nationals this year.

We also hope to sign MoUs in the areas of diplomatic institute cooperation i.e. between the Foreign Services Institute and Saud Al-Faisal Institute of Diplomatic Studies. In security cooperation and drug-trafficking. This visit will be a short but intense one with several substantive deliverables. It will further cement the strategic partnership we have with Saudi Arabia.

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