Saudi Arabia’s King, Crown Prince congratulate India’s new president

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Saudi Arabia’s leaders congratulated India’s new President Droupadi Murmu on being elected to the position, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wished success, progress and prosperity in their cable messages.

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Droupadi Murmu was sworn in as India’s president on Monday, making her the first person from one of the country’s marginalized tribal communities to serve as head of state.

The former schoolteacher and state governor was elected to the largely ceremonial position last week with 64 percent of the vote by members of India’s parliament and state assemblies.

Murmu, who is from the Santhal tribe and was born in eastern Odisha state, paid her respects before her inauguration at a memorial dedicated to India’s independence hero Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi, AFP reported.

“I started my life journey from a small tribal village,” Murmu, 64, said after taking the oath of office in parliament.

“From the background I come from, it was like a dream for me to even get elementary education,” she was quoted as saying by AFP.

“But despite many obstacles, my resolve remained strong and I became the first daughter from my village to go to college.”

Murmu’s win was considered a certainty because of the strength of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies in the parliament and state assemblies.

Saudi – India ties

The 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.

The current Indian Prime Minister Narendra 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.

Prime Minister Modi 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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