Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Saudi Arabia's Crown prince set for a two days visit to India

Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud will be on a two-day visit to India on February 19 and 20.

Saudi Arabia's Crown prince set for a two days visit to India

 Announcing the visit, the Ministry of External Affairs in a release said, "India and Saudi Arabia have historically enjoyed close and friendly relations anchored in mutually beneficial partnership and extensive people to people contracts." 

 The Saudi Prince had met Prime minister Narendra Modi on November 29 in Argentina on the sidelines of G20 summit. 

 Before that PM Modi met Mohammed Bin Salman, the Deputy Crown Prince in September 2016 on the sidelines of Hangzhou G20 summit in China.

 Prime Minister Modi had earlier visited Riyadh in April 2016.

 During the visit, PM King Salman had honoured PM Modi with the "Sash of King Abdulaziz", the highest civilian decoration awarded by the West Asian country. 

 Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest trading partner of India after China, US and Japan. India imports 17 per cent of its crude oil requirement from the kingdom. 

 Oil prices are something that India has raised with Riyadh many times. Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih in December during the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting (OPEC) meet said, "India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been 'vocal' about the increase in oil prices and raised it with Riyadh many times". 

 He said, "We also take views of Prime Minister Modi, who is equally vocal. We just met him in Buenos Aires. 

Privately he made those points. He does care for Indian consumers." 

 Saudi energy minister assured of affordable oil prices, adding, "Consumer in US, just like a consumer in France, just like a consumer in India, wants affordable energy" The bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia stood at $27.48 billion in FY 2017-18, a year on year increase of 9.56 per cent.

 In April 2018, Saudi Aramco, largest companies in the world by revenue signed a MoU with an Indian consortium (IOC, HPCL & BPCL) to acquire 50 per cent stake in India’s largest refinery project ‘Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Limited’ at $ 44 billion. A 2.7 million strong Indian community is in Saudi Arabia. 

Haj pilgrimage is an important component of bilateral relations. In 2018, Riyadh increased the Indian Hajj Quota by 5, 000, enabling 1,75, 025 Indian to perform Hajj last year. 

 India sees Saudi Arabia as a valuable partner and the relationship between New Delhi and Riyadh has expanded beyond the Indian community to issues related to the economy, energy and security.

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