PM Modi's message for Saudi Prince MBS over $100 billion investment in India

PM Modi's message for Saudi Prince MBS over $100 billion investment in India

India hailed its “strategic” partnership with oil-rich Saudi Arabia on Monday, days after unveiling a major trade and transport route linking Europe, the Middle East and India as part of a broad alliance.

“Together, we made the historic start to establish an economic corridor,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in New Delhi.

On Saturday, the pair took part alongside other G20 leaders in the unveiling of ambitious plans to create a modern-day Spice Route, boosting trade ties with potentially wide-ranging geopolitical implications.

“This corridor will not only connect the two countries, but economic cooperation, digital connectivity between Asia, West Asia and Europe,” Modi added, in talks following the end of the two-day Group of 20 leaders’ summit he hosted.

During their talks, the Indian leader and the Saudi crown prince also discussed cooperation in space, semiconductors and collaboration in defence manufacturing as well.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said the leaders discussed issues, including energy security, trade, investment and defence, without giving further details.

India and Saudi Arabia also discussed the possibility of trading in local currencies and expediting the negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council of which Saudi Arabia is a member.

Ausaf Sayeed, a secretary in the Indian foreign ministry, said the two countries signed eight agreements, including a pact to upgrade their hydrocarbon energy partnership to a comprehensive energy partnership for renewable, petroleum and strategic reserves.

They also agreed to create a joint task force for $100 billion in Saudi investment, half of which is earmarked for a delayed refinery project along India’s western coast, Sayeed said.

Talking about the interconnectivity between India and the Gulf countries, Sayeed said that it will include ports, railways, better roads and also power, gas grids and an optical fibre network.

He spelled out that the corridor would include trains to India and not just links by port. -APP/AFP