India - Saudi Arabia set to boost strategic ties

India - Saudi Arabia set to boost strategic ties

RIYADH -Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today met Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and discussed steps to further intensify the bilateral strategic partnership in all sectors and to work towards each other's progress.

Swaraj, who arrived here yesterday on her maiden visit to Saudi Arabia, called on King Salman here.

"Steps to further intensify our strategic partnership in all sectors and to work together towards each other's progress came up during the warm discussion," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Earlier, Swaraj met her Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir and discussed ways to enhance bilateral trade, energy, defence and security ties.

Kumar said the discussions between the two leaders focused on enhancing trade and investment, energy, defence and security, culture and people-to-people ties. The two leaders also discussed the regional and global situation, Kumar added.

A welcome sign in Hindi appreciating India's rich cultural heritage was placed at the Foreign Ministry building where Adel Jubeir hosted a lunch in honour of Swaraj.

Swaraj will also inaugurate the prestigious National Heritage and Culture Festival 'Janadriyah', at which India is the guest of honour country. The festival, organised by the National Guard, exhibits Saudi Arabia's rich tapestry of culture and heritage.

Swaraj thanked the Saudi government for according the 'Guest of Honour' status to India at the Janadriyah festival.

Last evening, Swaraj addressed Indian community members at a reception here and spoke in length about the growing relations between the two countries, Kumar said. Swaraj thanked the Indian community for the goodwill it has earned for the country and lauded the Indian embassy for its promptness.

Saudi Arabia is home to more than 3 million Indian people and ties between the two countries are on an upswing in the last few years especially after the landmark visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Gulf Kingdom in April 2016.

Saudi Arabia is India's fourth largest trade partner after China, the US and the UAE. The country is a major source of India's energy requirement as it accounts for almost one-fifth of India's crude oil requirement.

The volume of bilateral trade during 2016-17 was recorded at $25.079 billion, a slight decrease from the $26.71 billion in 2015-16.