RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and India are approaching their relationship with the wider global context in mind, Dr S. Jaishankar said in an exclusive interview. arab news During his first official visit to the Kingdom as Indian Foreign Minister.
“In a world that has experienced the Covid-19 pandemic, conflicts like the current one in Ukraine, and even climate phenomena, it is imperative that our relationship becomes a factor of growth of stability. It’s very good for the world.”
“The aim of the two countries is to identify complementarities that will allow us to expand cooperation as quickly as possible. This requires joint activities, mutual investment, coordinated policies and increased mobility. .”
Relations between Saudi Arabia and India have always been strong, with Indians comprising the Kingdom’s largest community of foreign workers and one of the largest sources of remittances from abroad to their home country. About 200,000 pilgrims from India, where Islam is her second largest religion, traveled to Saudi Arabia to make the Hajj before the 2019 pandemic.
Saudi Arabia has consistently ranked among the top three energy suppliers to India, the world’s third largest oil importer and consumer. Both countries are also members of the G20 Intergovernmental Forum and the Non-Aligned Movement.
In recent years, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and India has expanded to other areas such as security, trade, investment, health, food security, culture and defense. The two governments are in close contact during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are key players in the new multipolar world order and our two countries are cooperating on several fronts,” added Jaishankar. “India is a big economy and we are focused on the economic growth and development of her over 1.3 billion people in this country. provides a great opportunity to work with us.”
On this important aspect of India-Saudi Arabia relations, Jaishankar clarified: The two countries are important economic partners, with trade valued at approximately $42.86 billion ($1 = €0.99) in the fiscal year (April 2021-March 2022).
“This partnership plays a stabilizing role in the region. The two countries share some synergies in the economic sphere. The potential for increased investment is immense.”
“Energy has been a pillar of our cooperation for decades. Not only do we want to continue this momentum, but we also want to expand into the field of renewable energy, including ‘green’ hydrogen. ”
Jaishankar, a career diplomat who served as India’s Minister of Foreign Affairs before joining the Cabinet in 2019, called the strengthening of India-Saudi Arabia’s ties “in the wake of (Indian) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Emperor Mohammed bin Salman. We attribute this to the vision and advice provided by Prince.”
“Our respective visits to Saudi Arabia and India in 2019 provided a huge boost to bilateral relations and this continues despite the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” he said.
“These visits led to the formation of the important Saudi-India Strategic Partnership Council, which reflects the mutual desire of both countries to raise the level of this relationship. It covers almost all areas of cooperation, including politics, security, economy, energy, culture, people-to-people and defense relations.”
During his three-day visit to Riyadh, Jaishankar met his Saudi counterpart Faisal, the first ministerial meeting of the Committee for Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation established under the Council for Strategic Partnerships. Co-chaired with Prince Bin Farhane.
I am honored to visit His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tonight in Jeddah.I conveyed the warm greetings of the Prime Minister @narendra modi.
I informed him about the development of our bilateral relationship. Thank you for sharing his vision of our bond. pic.twitter.com/n98gopLuaZ
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 11, 2022
Regarding the functioning of bilateral institutions, Jaishankar said: The first is his PSSC Committee and the second is the Economic and Investment Committee. ”
“The current ministerial meeting that I attended[in Saudi Arabia]is that of the PSSC Commission, which focuses on several key areas of bilateral cooperation and has four joint working groups.”
“The Joint Working Group focuses on bilateral cooperation in the political and consular, legal and security, social and cultural, and defense areas. .”
Jaishankar expressed satisfaction with the increase in Saudi direct investment in India, which has grown from less than $50 million in 2014 to around $3.15 billion today. “Many large Indian companies are also doing business in Saudi Arabia. We have deepened cooperation in areas such as health security, food security, education and technology,” he said.
“Our collaboration during the pandemic has taught us important health security and supply chain lessons. Both countries can also work together under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to benefit from India’s skilled workforce, entrepreneurs and technology.”
Given these “synergies,” Jaishankar said one of the Strategic Partnership Council’s focuses is economics and investment. His four joint working groups of this subcommittee discussed cooperation in the fields of agriculture and food security, energy, technology and information technology, industry and infrastructure. ”
During the meeting, Prince Faisal and Mr Jaishankar conducted a comprehensive review of the bilateral relationship and discussed progress achieved within the framework of the PSSC Commission’s four Joint Working Groups. Similarly, both sides discussed regional and international issues of common interest, including cooperation within the United Nations, G20 and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
“India views the Gulf region as a distant neighbor, which naturally brings with it common interests with Saudi Arabia in the areas of security and defense. We are constantly strengthening our cooperation,” said Jaishankar.
In defense, commanders from both sides have visited each other over the past two years, and last year also held their first joint naval exercises. The Joint Committee on Defense Cooperation met several months ago to identify further areas of cooperation. The Indian defense industry offers exciting opportunities for co-production and investment, and this is an area where we hope to make further progress with Saudi Arabia. ”
Emphasizing the importance of security cooperation between the two governments, he said: Saudi Arabia faces unique challenges and experiences. ”
“Because terrorism knows no borders or religions and poses a threat to humanity, India and Saudi Arabia should work together to share information, develop new technologies, and keep abreast of terrorist tactics to help each country It is only natural to fight threats to the world.” We are working together with international organizations such as the United Nations and FATF. ”
According to Jaishankar, there is good cooperation “at the highest levels of both countries’ security structures” on the issue of countering the threat of terrorism. We have formed a joint working group on legal and security cooperation to work together in the United States,” he continues.
“When it comes to maritime security, India and Saudi Arabia have special concerns given their long coastlines and commercial interests. It’s about ensuring respect.”
Jaishankar said he was pleased with the increased naval cooperation between Saudi Arabia and India. The latter participated in the multinational exercise MILAN 2022 in Visakhapatnam in February 2022,” he recalls.
“In addition to these ship visits, we continue to exchange information and other training activities in the maritime domain. I am confident that we will see significant progress in the next few years.”
Going forward, Jaishankar hopes that his meeting and the forthcoming visit of his colleague, Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, will set the stage for meetings between Saudi and Indian leaders. “We believe that meetings of the Strategic Partnership Council Mechanism will be more productive thanks to these preparations,” he said.
productive meetings with @GCC Secretary General Dr. Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf
Signed MoU on consultation mechanism between India and GCC.
They exchanged views on the current regional and global situation and the relevance of cooperation between India and the GCC in that context. pic.twitter.com/6DpiTRnqi4
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 10, 2022
While in Riyadh, Jaishankar met with other Saudi officials and GCC Secretary General Nayef Farah Mubarak Al-Hajraf. He accompanied Indian embassy officials and also visited Diriyah cultural heritage, Salwa Palace and Diriyah his gallery.
This text is a translation of an article published on Arabnews.com.