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PM Modi calls on Saudi King Salman, meets top ministers to deepen bilateral ties

Last updated on: October 29, 2019 20:54 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called on Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the two leaders exchanged views on working closely together to strengthen the bilateral ties.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photograph: PTI Photo

Before his meeting with the Saudi King, top ministers of the Gulf nation called on Prime Minister Modi and discussed ways to further deepen bilateral ties in areas of energy, labour, agriculture and water technologies.

 

"A relationship reflecting centuries-old ties! Prime Minister Narendra Modi was warmly welcomed by Saudi King HM @KingSalman underlining a new dimension to our expanding relationship. His Majesty hosted a lunch in honour of prime minister," ministry of external affairs Spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

Prime Minister Modi arrived in Riyadh late Monday night on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia to participate in the high-profile financial summit Future Investment Initiative, dubbed "Davos in the desert", an initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

This is his second visit to the Gulf Kingdom. During his first visit in 2016, King Salman conferred Saudi's highest civilian award on him. The Crown Prince visited India in February 2019, giving a further fillip to the bilateral ties.

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Labour and Social Development Ahmad bin Sulaiman Alrajhi and Environment, Water and Agriculture Minister Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadley were among the ministers who called on Prime Minister Modi in the Saudi capital on Tuesday.

The Saudi energy minister had a productive meeting with the Prime Minister and the two leaders "talked about efforts to improve energy cooperation between the two nations," the Prime Minister's office tweeted.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al Fadley during a meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photograph: PTI Photo

"Adding even more energy to the India-Saudi Arabia friendship. I had an excellent meeting with HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman. Energy remains an important pillar of our ties," Modi tweeted about his meeting with the energy minister.

The meeting assumes significance as the two countries have decided to move ahead on the ambitious west coast refinery project in Raigarh in Maharastra which will involve investments from Saudi oil giant Aramco, UAE's Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Indian public sector oil firms.

India, the world's third-largest oil consumer, imports 83 per cent of its oil needs. Saudi Arabia is its second-biggest supplier after Iraq. It sold 40.33 million tonnes of crude oil to India in 2018-19 fiscal, when the country had imported 207.3 million tonnes of oil.

India, the 6th largest economy in the world and the 3rd largest energy consumer after the US and China, buys some 200,000 tonnes of LPG every month from Saudi Arabia.

"Furthering synergies for a sustainable future. PM Narendra Modi had an extensive meeting with @AlfadleyA, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture," the Prime Minister's Office tweeted.

MEA spokesman Kumar said that Prime Minister Modi had "useful discussion" with Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture towards exploring newer areas of cooperation in the agriculture, food processing and water technologies.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with King Abdullah II of Jordan before a meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photograph: PTI Photo

Prime Minister Modi also met Minister of Labour and Social Development Ahmad bin Sulaiman Alrajhi and discussed issues related to labour.

The 2.6 million strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom.

India's relations with Saudi Arabia have been on an upswing over the last few years. India's bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was at $27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner.

Saudi Arabia last month said that it was looking at investing $100 billion in India in areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining.

Zishan Haider in Riyadh
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