India, Saudi Arabia to establish high cooperation council to boost ties; bilateral trade to touch $50 bn in next 5 years

New Delhi: India and Saudi Arabia will set up a high cooperation council to provide huge impetus to bilateral ties between the nations, Saudi Indian Business Council chairman Kamel S Al-Munajjed said on Wednesday.

Munajjed said the 'Saudi Indian High Cooperation Council' will be headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India, Saudi Arabia to establish high cooperation council to boost ties; bilateral trade to touch  bn in next 5 years

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman with Narendra Modi. ANI

The mechanism will enable the two nations to discuss any problem and engage directly on various aspects including business, politics and defence.

In an interview to PTI here in the backdrop Mohammed bin Salman's visit to India, Munajjed said terrorist action should not deter Saudi Arabia from having good relations with India or any other country, amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack.

"As soon as this terrorist attack (Pulwama) happened, Saudi Arabia issued a very strong statement condemning terrorism. The Saudis have suffered a lot in the last 20-30 years due to terrorism.

"We should not let terrorist action stop us from having good relations with India or with any other country in the world. We should be stronger than that," he told PTI.

He said Saudi Arabia has been requesting India to grant electronic visa facility to its businessmen, to facilitate bilateral trade and investment.

"We hope it will be discussed between the two governments. We have asked that the e-visa system be applied to all businessmen. Be it Indian or Saudi," Munajjed said.

He estimates bilateral trade to reach $50 billion in the next five years, from $28 billion at present. According to him, the real quantum of mutual trade is $35 billion currently, taking into account shipments from India to the UAE which are re-exported to Saudi Arabia.

Munajjed outlined non-oil sectors like pharmaceutical, agriculture, education, renewable energy and real estate for diversifying bilateral economic and investment cooperation.

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Updated Date: Feb 20, 2019 19:23:28 IST

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