In a bid for strategic depth and focus to their growing relationship, India and Saudi Arabia will sign an agreement on establishing the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Riyadh on October 29. The council will be headed by Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Modi, who will depart for Riyadh on October 28, will meet Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and hold delegation-level talks with the crown prince. The Prime Minister will also deliver the keynote address at the third edition of Saudi Arabia’s annual investment forum, the Future Investment Initiative.
MEA secretary (economic relations) T S Tirumurti said Riyadh has shown “understanding” about the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir and it has had a “salutary effect” on Pakistan.
During Modi’s visit, the major pacts to be signed will include an MoU to roll out the RuPay card – India’s digital payment system – and one on bringing coordination on e-migration systems between the two countries.
The leaders will also discuss enhancing defence and security cooperation. The first naval exercise between the two nations is tentatively lined up for December 2019 or January 2020.
On the issue of cross-border terrorism, Tirumurti said both India and Saudi Arabia have concerns which reflected in the joint statement issued after Crown Prince Salman’s visit here in February.
The two countries will also finalise and move ahead on the ambitious west coast refinery project in Raigarh, Maharashtra, which will involve investments from Saudi oil giant Aramco, UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Indian public sector oil firms.
They are also scheduled to sign an MoU for a joint venture between Indian Oil’s Middle east subsidiary – IOC Middle East FZE – and Saudi company Al Jeri for downstream cooperation and setting up a retail fuel business in the Gulf country.
Saudi Arabia is a key pillar of India’s energy security, being a source of over 17 per cent of crude oil and 32 per cent of LPG requirements of India.
Both sides are also hoping to finalise Saudi Arabia’s investment in India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund. Another key agreement both sides are eyeing to finalise is in the area of migration and protecting interests of Indian work force in the country. “We hope to launch the integration of our e-migration system and the Saudi system during the prime minister’s visit,” Tirumurti said.
He said both sides are also expected to ink an MoU for cooperation in the area of renewable energy.
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