India-Saudi Arabia sign 5 MoUs; Narendra Modi raises topic of Pulwama attacks, crown prince assures cooperation

India and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday inked five Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) after talks between the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Agreements were signed in the fields of infrastructure, housing and broadcasting.

In light of the Pulwama attack and its aftermath that has put considerable strain on India's relationship with its neighbour Pakistan, the Saudi prince's visit to the nation before visiting India was being seen as a dealbreaker. However, Narendra Modi received the Saudi leader with much warmth at the airport and later hugged him post their joint press conference.

In the joint address, Modi raised the issue of Pulwama terror attack and how there was a need to isolate those nations who perpetrate terror on their soil. He called for all possible impositions on nations promoting terror and pressurising them to eliminate terror while highlighting the need to act on terror jointly.

India-Saudi Arabia sign 5 MoUs; Narendra Modi raises topic of Pulwama attacks, crown prince assures cooperation

Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANI

Modi said that India and Saudi Arabia's relationship goes back several centuries, and has been rich and fulfiling historically as well as culturally. He said that their relations have always been good and that over the years the trade relations have only improved. "In 2016, during my visit to Saudi Arabia, we signed agreements in the energy sector," Modi said. he further said that India and the West Asian nation have agreed to build a strategic partnership council and that this will only deepen their ties.

The prime minister said that he welcomes Saudi investment in India and hopes that the bond between the nation will only grow stronger in times to come as he looked forward to their financial cooperation being strengthened. Modi announced that Saudi Arabia has made investments in the infrastructure sector and shown support for India's 'Make in India' and 'Start-up India' programmes. The two nations also announced a strategic partnership in the energy sector which Modi termed as 'Akshay Urja'. Further, cooperation in the international solar alliance, the use of nuclear energy for purposes like desalination of water were some of the other things agreed upon in the joint statement.

Modi called Saudi Arabia a valuable strategic ally and called for strengthening of financial ties as he thanked the Saudi government for increasing the haj quota/subsidy for India and for taking care of 2.7 million Indian nationals who live in the West Asian country. The Indian government, meanwhile, announced e-visas for Saudi Arabian citizens.

Whereas, the crown prince said that he stands with India on its stance on terrorism as extremism and terrorism are their common concerns. He said that Saudi Arabia was ready to share intelligence to fight terror.

Salman then praised the Indian IT sector calling it the nation's strength and said that his own country has benefitted dearly from investments in IT. He said that India is a more than $100-billion opportunity and he is looking for mutually-beneficial ties with the South Asian country.

The Saudi prince announced that he would like to diversify in petrochemical and storage in India continuing on the lines of the $44 billion investment done in India so far.

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Updated Date: Feb 20, 2019 14:51:45 IST

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