PM leaves for Saudi Arabia, to ink deal to elevate ties

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday left for Saudi Arabia on a day’s official visit during which the two sides will ink an agreement to set up the Strategic Partnership Council to elevate the India-Saudi ties to a new level.

Modi will also attend the Plenary Session of the Third Future Investment Initiative Forum being held in Riyadh on Tuesday.

“PM @narendramodi emplanes for Riyadh to participate in the 3rd @FIIKSA Forum on an invitation of HM @KingSalman. Coupled with a strong bilateral component, the visit will strengthen a relationship that goes back centuries,” tweeted MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

The PM, in a departure statement, said he is visiting the Kingdom at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

During his visit, Modi will hold bilateral talks with the Saudi King and also hold talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on matters of bilateral cooperation as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.

“India and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed traditionally close and friendly relations. Saudi Arabia has been one of the largest and reliable suppliers of India’s energy needs,” the PM said in the statement.

“The Crown Prince during his visit to New Delhi in February 2019 committed to invest over US$100 billion in sectors of priority in India.

“Defence, security, trade, culture, education and people-to-people contacts are the other important areas of bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia,” he said.

During the visit, the Agreement for establishment of the Strategic Partnership Council will further elevate the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership to a new level.

At the Future Investment Initiative Forum, Modi will speak about the growing trade and investment opportunities for the global investors in India as the country marches forward to a $5 trillion economy by 2024.

Major energy deals are set to be inked during the PM’s visit, including the West Coast Refinery Project and for India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) Programme.

Both sides are expected to finalise the West Coast Refinery Project, a $44 billion project in Maharashtra, in which Saudi Aramco is to hold considerable stake.

A deal is also likely on the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) Programme – three massive underground storage facilities that India is building to ensure energy security.