The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia – Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud has arrived India last night for a 2-day visit where he will discuss defence, security, trade and terrorism.
He was received by the Prime Minister of India – Narendra Modi at the Airport. The Prime Minister of India broke the official protocol and personally went ahead to receive the Crown Prince, signifying the importance India attaches to the visit of Saudi Arabia leader.
In a tweet, Modi said, “India is delighted to welcome HRH Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”
For the records, Modi has broken protocol only for a few leaders in the past which included Former President of United states (U.S.) – Barack Obama in 2015, The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi – Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2016 and 2017, The King of Jordan – Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein in 2018, Prime Minister of Bangladesh – Sheikh Hasina in 2017 and the Prime Minister of Israel – Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018.
Earlier today in the morning, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was bestowed with Guard of Honour as a part of ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. He was accompanied by Narendra Modi and the President of India – Ram Nath Kovind.
Speaking from the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the crown Prince of Saudi Arabia said, “Today we want to be sure that this relation is maintained and improved for the sake of both countries. With the leadership of the President and the Prime Minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India.”
During his India visit, he is likely to make financial announcement on India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund, Energy Sector, Housing and Defence Co-Production. Most importantly, he will discuss the possibilities of jointly fighting terrorism.
There are chances that India and Saudi Arabia may issue a strong statement on intelligence-sharing mechanism, to counter the rising terrorism globally.
For the records, India is one of the 8 strategic partners of Saudi Arabia with whom the latter intends to further extend relations in politics, security, trade, investment and culture. The other partners are China, Japan, South Korea, U.S., Germany and 2 European Countries.
In January 2019, during the 4th Joint Defence Cooperation Committee meeting in Riyadh, both Saudi Arabia and India have explored possibilities of increasing defence engagement with joint production and exercises. The investment package for the same is expected to be announced shortly.
Besides, Crown Prince and Modi will also discuss about Saudi’s oil giant, Aramco’s investment in refineries in India, including the company’s stalled project to build a U.S. $ 44 billion facility on the Western Coast of India.
After China, U.S. and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia is the 4th largest trade partner of India, with India importing 17% of its crude oil requirements from them. Greater collaboration in the area of Civil Aviation is also on the cards. There is great prospect of major boost in tourism.
In the FY 2017-2018, India – Saudi Arabia trade increased by 9.56% to U.S. $ 27.48 billion. The bilateral trade for April-October is provisionally valued at U.S. $ 19.64 billion.
The visit of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia comes in the backdrop of increasing tensions between India and Pakistan, following a recent Pulwama attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) which killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and left 5 injured.
Prior to landing in India, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia had visited Pakistan where he had signed investment agreements in tune of U.S. $ 20 billion. A joint statement was issued during his Pakistan visit which said the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has stressed that a dialogue is on the way to ensure peace and stability in the region to resolve outstanding issues between India and Pakistan.
Post his 2-day India visit, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia will head to China.