New Delhi: Adding a new wing to the bilateral relationship, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday night left for Saudi Arabia to hold bilateral talks with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
During the visit, the two sides are expected to sign an agreement to establish a Strategic Partnership Council to coordinate on key issues. The council will be headed by Prime Minister Modi and the Crown Prince.
As part of the visit, PM Modi along with several other world leaders will also attend the third edition of the annual financial conference on Tuesday which is aimed at encouraging foreign investors to help the Kingdom diversify its oil-based economy.
A number of world leaders such as King Abdullah of Jordan, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyattta and former British Prime Minister David Cameron are attending the annual forum. It would be attended by more than 6,000 people from over 30 countries.
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Limited, India, will also speak at the forum. Titled as ‘What’s next for India?,’ PM Modi will deliver the keynote address at the forum, which is also known as ‘Davos in the Desert’.
Apart from addressing the forum, PM Modi is also expected to hold bilateral talks with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The two sides are expected to sign a number of agreements in several key sectors such as oil and gas, renewable energy and civil aviation to bolster their ties.
PM Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia assumes significance amid tensions between India and Pakistan following New Delhi’s decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Not happy with PM Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan on Sunday turned down a request from India to use its airspace for the PM’s visit to the Kingdom.
Sources in the government have told news agency ANI that New Delhi has taken the matter to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
“Pakistan should reflect upon its decision to deviate from well-established international practice, as well as reconsider its old habit of misrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action,” added the sources.
“We regret the decision of the Government of Pakistan to yet again deny the overflight clearance for VVIP special flight, which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country,” they said.
Ahead of his visit to the oil-rich Kingdom, PM Modi had said that the agreement for the establishment of the Strategic Partnership Council will further elevate the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership to a new level.
“I will be visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the 29th, where I will be a part of various programmes including the Plenary Session of the 3rd Future Investment Initiative Forum being held in Riyadh. I will also meet His Majesty the King and Crown Prince,” he said in a statement.
Saying that India and Saudi Arabia have traditionally enjoyed close and friendly relations, PM Modi said the oil-rich kingdom has been one of the largest and reliable suppliers of India’s energy needs.
“Saudi Arabia and India are working together in a wide range of sectors notably energy, security, trade and culture. This visit will add strength to our bilateral relations,” he said.
PM Modi further stated that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia during his visit to New Delhi in February 2019 had committed to invest over $100 billion in sectors of priority in India.
“Defence, security, trade, culture, education and people-to-people contacts are the other important areas of bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia,” he added.
(With inputs from agencies)