India, Saudi Arabia to deepen economic, political ties

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 01 December 2018
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India, Saudi Arabia to deepen economic, political ties

  • The meeting took place ahead of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires
  • During the meeting, the crown prince accepted India's invitation for Saudi Arabia to join the initiative of the International Solar Energy Federation

NEW DELHI: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are to establish a mechanism to scale up Riyadh’s investments in the energy, infrastructure and defense sectors in India. The decision is a result of a meeting that took place on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires and is a major boost to the bilateral economic and political relationship between the two countries.
“It was a cordial and warm meeting,” Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said in a media briefing.
He said that “the crown prince spoke of India as an important partner” and talked about “finalizing an initial investment in the National Infrastructure Fund.”
“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia referred to the future prospects for investment in the technology sector, the agriculture sector and energy sectors,” Gokhale said.
“The two leaders have agreed that we will now set up a mechanism at the leadership level which will go into the possibilities of concrete actions in terms of investment, in terms of technology, in terms of manufacturing across various sectors — from energy to food security and to infrastructure to defense,” he said.
“This mechanism will be worked out shortly and we will expect that in the next two to three years there will be significantly scaling up in Saudi investments in India,” Gokhale said.
The foreign secretary also told the media that the Indian prime minister stressed the importance of having stable and predictable energy prices. The two leaders discussed how Saudi Arabia can help in stabilizing energy prices, particularly for India.
“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was mindful of the contributions that Indians have made in the building of Saudi Arabia over the years and he specifically expressed appreciation for this,” Gokhale said.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Modi wrote on Twitter: “Had a fruitful interaction with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud. We discussed multiple aspects of India-Saudi Arabia relations and ways to further boost economic, cultural and energy ties.”
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a prominent industry body in India, welcomed the meeting and said that “Saudi Arabia is going to be one of the biggest trading partners in the coming years.”
“The engagement between the two countries has been going on and has gone up in recent years and it will go higher and higher. Saudi Arabia is diversifying and expanding the relationship with India as part of that deeper and growing engagement,” a CII representative told Arab News.
New Delhi-based foreign policy expert Zakir Hussain said that “the issues discussed between two leaders are very important to promote and enhance our economic, infrastructure, technology, energy security, people-to-people relations and other issues related to our mutual interests.”
“In the past 15-and or 16 years Saudi Arabia’s investment has not been more than $50 million to $60 million, which is not much, far less than Kingdom’s potential,” said Hussain, author of the book “Saudi Arabia in a Multipolar World: Changing Dynamics.”


Saudi space chief visits Moscow mission control center

Updated 18 min 43 sec ago
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Saudi space chief visits Moscow mission control center

  • Prince Sultan bin Salman was received by the center’s supervisor
  • He also visited the General Corporation for Heavy Space Industries, which is responsible for manufacturing spacecraft and developing technology

MOSCOW: The chairman of the Saudi Space Commission on Saturday visited the Moscow headquarters of Russia’s mission control center.
Prince Sultan bin Salman was received by the center’s supervisor, who briefed him on the center’s work and programs, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
They discussed establishing scientific and research cooperation in the areas of space and aeronautics, and the International Space Station.
Prince Sultan also visited the General Corporation for Heavy Space Industries, which is responsible for manufacturing spacecraft and developing technology. It produces most parts of the International Space Station.
He said his visit was in line with directives from King Salman to ensure close cooperation with Russia in the space sector and joint investments.
The Saudi Space Commission (SSC) was working at a “rapid pace” to complete an ambitious national strategy, he said, and the Kingdom was one of the region’s first countries to explore the future of space more than 34 years ago.
He added that programs were being prepared in partnership with Russian space institutions and agencies to train Saudi astronauts and to expand in space and satellite industries.
The prince said the commission was keen to invest in training Saudi talent through specialized programs and educational scholarships abroad.
Earlier this week, he visited the headquarters of the Russian space agency Roscosmos for a working session alongside its director-general, Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin.
“Russia considers Saudi Arabia a serious partner, with a great regional and international influence,” SPA reported Rogozin as saying.
Last month, Saudi Arabia and 10 other countries signed the first pan-Arab agreement on coordinating national exploration programs at the Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi.
The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, said that the group’s first project would be a satellite system to be built in the UAE.
The agreement is unprecedented for the nations involved, whose levels of technical expertise vary. The first aim of the agreement will be to bring them all up to an equal level of capability.