Jaishankar calls on Saudi Crown Prince, hands over PM’s message

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met Saudi Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on Sunday and handed over a written message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprised him of the progress in bilateral ties, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the meeting, bilateral relations and opportunities to enhance them were reviewed and the latest regional and international developments discussed, the agency reported.

“Honoured to call on HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman…. Conveyed the warm greetings of PM @narendramodi. Apprised him of the progress in our bilateral relations. Thank him for sharing his vision of our ties,” Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting.

Terming Saudi Arabia an “important player” in today’s global economy, not only due to its impressive growth numbers but also due to its central position in the energy markets, Jaishankar told Jeddah-based English daily ‘Saudi Gazette’ that the Gulf country is an important economic partner for India. “Energy is indeed one of the keystone areas in our bilateral cooperation,” he said. “Apart from our traditional trade in the field of energy, both nations are now collaborating in the domains of new and renewable energy. The Joint Working Group on Energy has identified 19 project opportunities for collaboration, which include investments in LNG infrastructure and multiple renewable energy projects, human capacity building and joint research.”

Jaishankar said there are several areas where India and Saudi Arabia can collaborate to help achieve the latter’s ‘Vision 2030’.

“The Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) is central to furthering this cooperation as it provides an institutional mechanism to ensure regular and continuous progress of the bilateral relationship,” he said. “Under Vision 2030, the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] has set ambitious targets that require extensive economic cooperation. The Kingdom can certainly benefit from India’s rising economy, not only through two-way investments, but also due to India’s skilled manpower.”

“Such cooperation is visible by increased engagements with all six GCC countries over the past few years. With Saudi Arabia in particular, defence and security cooperation has increased significantly in recent times, with the first-ever bilateral naval exercise “AL MOHED AL HINDI” being held in August 2021. The two countries can certainly look to increase such cooperation to fulfill several of India’s regional initiatives, such as the SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region),” he said.

“A major reason for this expansion has been the evolving regional situation, for instance, our defense cooperation, particularly in the naval domain has gradually strengthened in the past few years, leading to the first-ever bilateral naval exercise in August 2021. In the economic domain as well, our bilateral trade last year stood at USD 42.86 billion, reflecting the growing interconnections between our two economies,” Jaishankar said.

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