Indian FM meets Saudi Crown Prince, delivers letter from PM Modi

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Indian Foreign Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar where he received a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Indian dignitary and the Saudi leader discussed furthering bilateral relations and explored efforts taken to address the latest regional and international developments, according to a statement from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

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The meeting was reportedly attended by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and the Kingdom’s Ambassador to India Saleh al-Husseini, in addition to the Assistant Undersecretary of the Indian foreign minister’s office Dr. Shilbak Ambolay.

Separately, Jaishankar also met with Prince Faisal to discuss enhancing joint relations and working towards bettering international peace and security, according to the Saudi MoFA statement.

The last reported meeting between the two ministers was in July on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

“India-Saudi Arabia relations have strengthened considerably over the past few years including in political, security, energy, trade, investment, health, food security, cultural and defense fields. The top leadership of both countries remained in close touch even during the Covid pandemic,” a statement from India’s External Affairs Ministry read on Friday, ahead of Jaishankar’s visit.

During the visit, a Saudi delegation led by Prince Faisal held a meeting of the ‘Committee of the Saudi-Indian Strategic Partnership Council,’ to discuss politics, security, cultural and social affairs, the Saudi MoFA said in a statement.

The two delegations reportedly discussed means to consolidate the existing economic partnership in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the increase bilateral investment.

India’s MoFA also clarified in a statement that the meetings of these groups and senior officials have been held over the past few months.

The visit marked Jaishankar’s first trip to the Kingdom as External Affairs Minister. In a social media post, he labeled the visit “memorable.”

Saudi – India ties

The two countries enjoy strong bilateral trade and friendly foreign relations that date as far back as 1947, according to an online report by the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.

Modi visited Riyadh in April 2016 during which King Salman conferred the highest civilian honor – the King Abdulaziz Sash in recognition of the strong relations between the two nations.

During a February 2019 visit to India by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom announced an investment of nearly $100 billion in addition to agreements in the tourism and housing sectors.

The Indian prime minister visited Riyadh again in October 2019, during which 12 MoUs were signed across energy, security, defense production, civil aviation, medical products, strategic petroleum reserves, small and medium scale industries, and training of diplomats.

Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trading partner, according to the report by the Indian Embassy. More than 18 percent of India’s crude oil imports are reportedly sourced from Saudi Arabia with bilateral trade in FY22 (April to December) valued at $29.28 billion.

Saudi Arabia is also home to an estimated 2.2 million Indian expats, the largest expat community in the Kingdom.

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