NEW DELHI, India: The Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud paid a State visit to India on September 11, 2023 at the invitation of Prime Minister of the Republic of India Shri Narendra Modi, the Indian media reported.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. The Indian President Smt Droupadi Murmu also hosted a banquet dinner in honour of His Royal Highness.
The visit followed the landmark visits of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in October 2019 and that of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Republic of India in February 2019.
The Saudi side extended its congratulations to the Republic of India for its successful presidency of the G20 Summit which was held during the period of September 9-10, 2023 and commended the excellent organization and leadership that contributed to the conclusion of the Summit with constructive decisions and recommendations.
The Indian side appreciated Saudi Arabia’s cooperation and close and effective engagement in the G20 meetings.
Official talks were held between His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which they reviewed means to deepen the strategic relations between the two friendly countries.
In addition, views were exchanged on current regional and international issues.
During the visit, the two leaders co-chaired the first meeting of the India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) which was set up with the signing of an Agreement by both leaders in October 2019. In this regard, the two leaders reviewed the work done under the framework of the Strategic Partnership Council and expressed satisfaction at the outcomes of the works of the two Ministerial Committees namely: (a) the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation and their subcommittees and (b) the Committee on Economy and Investments and their Joint Working Groups, which have deepened the strategic partnership between the two countries in diverse fields.
At the end of the Meeting, the two leaders signed the Minutes of the Meeting.
The following Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed/exchanged during the visit:
- MOU in the field of Energy between Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of India and Ministry of Energy of Saudi Arabia
- MOC between Ministry of Communication and IT of Saudi Arabia and MEITY of India in the field of Digitization and Electronic manufacturing
- MOU between CVC of India and Saudi Oversight and Anti Corruption Authority
- MOC between National Archives of India and King Abdulaziz Foundation of Saudi Arabia in the area of archival cooperation
- Framework of Cooperation on Enhancing Bilateral Investment between Invest India and Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia
- MOU between Saudi EXIM Bank and EXIM Bank of India
- MOU for Cooperation in the Technical Field & Establishment of the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank between SIDBI and SME Bank of Saudi Arabia
- MOU on Seawater Desalination between National Institute of Technology of India and Saline Water Conversion Corporation of Saudi Arabia
Both sides recalled the historic and friendly relations between India and Saudi Arabia, whose cornerstone has been the centuries old people-to-people contacts. The relations between both countries are marked by trust, mutual understanding, goodwill, cooperation and respect for each other’s interests. Both sides expressed satisfaction that the bilateral relations have expanded and deepened across different fields such as political, trade, investment, energy, defence, security, social, cultural and people-to-people ties.
The Indian side thanked the Saudi side for taking excellent care of more than 2.4 million Indians residing in the Kingdom. The Indian side also conveyed its appreciation for the full support extended by Saudi Arabia to Indian authorities for evacuating Indian nationals stranded in Sudan through Jeddah under Operation Kaveri. The Indian side congratulated Saudi Arabia for successfully holding Hajj pilgrimage this year, and expressed its appreciation for the excellent coordination between the two countries in facilitating Indian Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.
The two sides stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation in areas that aim to advance the economic partnership between the two countries.
The two sides highlighted the importance of energy cooperation as an important pillar of the strategic partnership between the two countries, and stressed the importance of supporting the stability of the world’s oil markets by encouraging dialogue and cooperation between producing and consuming countries, and ensuring the security of energy supply sources in the world markets. The Saudi side affirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to be a reliable partner and exporter of crude oil supplies to the Republic of India.
The two sides look forward to boost joint cooperation in the fields of electricity and grid interconnection between the two countries, in addition to cooperating in the field of hydrogen and its derivatives.
The two sides agreed to develop joint projects to transform oil into petrochemicals in the two countries, and providing the necessary support, requirements and enablers to accelerate the project of West Coast Refinery. The two sides agreed to explore investment opportunities in the field of fertilizers and intermediate, transformative and specialized petrochemicals in both countries.
Both sides agreed to explore cooperation in fields of promoting the utilization of sustainable advanced hydrocarbon materials, energy efficiency and rationalization of its consumption in the sectors of buildings, industry and transportation, and raising awareness of its importance.
In addition, to cooperate in capacity development in the field of energy efficiency, development of supply chains while ensuring their sustainability in the energy sectors, and enabling cooperation between companies to maximize the use of local resources in the two countries, in order to contribute to the resilience and efficiency of energy supplies.
With regard to climate change, the two sides reaffirmed the importance of adhering to the principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. India welcomed the Kingdom’s leading efforts in addressing climate change challenges in the region and globally including “Saudi Green” and “Middle East Green” initiatives, by applying the circular carbon economy approach launched by the Kingdom and endorsed by the leaders of the G20 countries, as a comprehensive and balanced approach to manage emissions with all available clean technologies, and initiatives on reducing lands degradation, restoring green plants (vegetation), and preserving biodiversity. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomed India’s efforts in addressing climate change through initiatives like International Solar Alliance, One Sun-One World-One Grid, Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE).
Both sides noted that India and Saudi Arabia are among the few large economies in the world showing robust growth. The Indian side congratulated the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the progress made in reforms and diversification of economy as part of Vision 2030 and hoped for greater participation of Indian companies, professionals and workers in Saudi Arabia’s progress story. The Saudi side congratulated the Republic of India on its vision of a developed India by 2047 coinciding with India’s celebration of 100 years of independence.
The two sides stressed the importance of promoting direct and indirect investments, across all fields between the two countries given the tremendous opportunities offered by the two major economies in areas including conventional and renewable energy, agriculture, food security, chemicals, communications and technology, tourism, culture, health care, industry, mining, and pharmaceuticals.
Both sides underscored the significance of the investment framework cooperation program (FCP) between Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia and Invest India, aiming at bolstering investment cooperation and advancing shared interests.
The two sides emphasized on the essential role of the private sector in their economic partnership and stressed the importance of encouraging business sector in the two countries to intensify communication to realize promising trade and investment opportunities and turn them into tangible partnerships.
Both sides welcomed the key initiatives taken by both Governments to improve business climate, simplify and rationalize rules for relaxing foreign direct investment norms, the ease of doing business and reforms undertaken by India. Both sides discussed further facilitation of investments from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and its portfolio companies. Both sides also noted the ongoing discussions on Bilateral Investment Treaty, Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Mutual Legal Assistance in Custom matters.
In light of the economic transformation that both countries are witnessing through Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and India’s flagship initiatives such as Make in India, Start-up India and Digital India, both sides expressed their interest in strengthening the economic ties and to explore different investment opportunities in various strategic sectors to achieve mutual economic benefits for both counties.
Both sides welcomed convening of the India-Saudi Investment Forum on the sidelines of the visit, with the aim of further promoting trade, investments, and strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries.
Both sides agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in the area of payment systems including the acceptance of RuPAY card in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the benefit of Indian community in general and more particularly the Hajj/Umrah pilgrims. They also agreed to further discuss fintech cooperation.
The importance of trade in the bilateral relationship was recognized. Both sides praised the burgeoning trade ties and noted that bilateral trade has increased to more than US$ 52 billion in 2022-23, marking a growth of more than 23%. Both sides also noted that India is the second largest trade partner of Saudi Arabia, while Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest trade partner of India. Both sides agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the area of trade remedies.
While praising the growth achieved in trade between the two friendly countries, both sides stressed the importance of continuing joint work to enhance and diversify bilateral trade. Both sides also supported the early India-GCC FTA negotiation commencement.
The two sides also expressed their quest to enhance and develop cooperation in the industrial and mining sectors to serve their strategic interests.
The two sides emphasized on the importance of food security for both countries. They welcomed the expansion of the private sector in the two countries to enter into investment partnerships in the agricultural and food industries, and affirmed their aspiration to continue cooperation between the two countries in the fields of environment, agriculture, food security, and food processing industries.
The two sides affirmed the strengthening of partnership in the areas related to communications and information technology, digital economy, innovation and space, remote sensing, satellite communication and satellite-based navigation, and agreed to enhance cooperation in these areas to create a better digital future for future generations of the two countries. Both sides also appreciated the ongoing cooperation between the Space agencies of both countries.
The two sides stressed the importance of cooperation and joint action to develop the transport and logistics sector, especially in the field of air transport and ports, in a way that achieves the common interests of the two friendly countries.
The two sides expressed their aspiration to enhance cooperation in the health field and support global initiatives to confront pandemics and current and future health risks and health challenges. Both sides agreed to substantially enhance cooperation in the field of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. The Indian side noted with appreciation the announcement by the Kingdom for hosting the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance, scheduled for November 2024, which aims to support One Health approach in order to find effective and sustainable solutions and raise readiness and preparedness for antimicrobial resistance.
The two sides commended the deepening cooperation in the defense sector and agreed to continue work including joint exercises, training and high-level visits between the two countries to achieve common interests and contribute to achieving security and stability. They expressed satisfaction at the joint Naval Exercise ‘Al Mohed Al Hindi’ held in 2021 and 2023. They welcomed the outcomes of the 5th meeting of the Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation held in New Delhi in June 2022 and various activities undertaken under the aegis of this Committee. They also agreed on continuing to consider possibilities of joint development and production of defence equipment.
The two sides praised the cooperation achieved in security fields, and affirmed their desire to open new horizons to enhance this cooperation in order to achieve security and stability for the two friendly countries. They also emphasized the importance of furthering cooperation between both sides in the areas of cyber security, maritime security, combating transnational crime, narcotics and drug trafficking. The two sides agreed on the importance of cooperation to promote ways to ensure the security and safety of waterways and freedom of navigation in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Both sides also stressed the importance of strengthening security cooperation in the field of combating terrorism and its financing. Both sides emphasized that terrorism, in all its forms, remains one of the gravest threats to humanity. They agreed that there cannot be any justification for any act of terror for any reason whatsoever. They rejected any attempt to link terrorism to any particular race, religion or culture. Both sides called on all States to reject the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructure where it exists and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice swiftly. Both sides stressed the need to prevent access to weapons including missiles and drones to commit terrorist acts against other countries.
The two sides agreed to promote tourism between the two countries considering the tourism potential of each country. They expressed their determination to exchange experiences in this field and strengthen joint work with regard to sustainable tourism for the benefit of the tourism sector and its development.
The Saudi side expressed thanks to the Indian side for the restoration of e-visas for Saudi Citizens.
The two sides stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation and partnership in sports programs and activities, and enhancing cultural exchange between the two friendly countries. The two sides agreed to encourage people-to-people and cultural contacts both at private and government levels.
The two sides welcomed the raising of the level of scientific and educational cooperation between the two countries in the fields of higher education, research and innovation. They also encouraged direct relations between universities and scientific and educational institutions in the two countries in order to achieve comprehensive and high-quality education for all.
The two sides agreed to enhance the existing media cooperation and to discuss opportunities for developing cooperation in the fields of radio, television, news agencies and the press, exchanging experiences and coordinating mutual media visits.
The two sides also stressed the depth and importance of the existing bilateral relations between them in the fields of labour and human resources, and encouraging joint efforts to activate aspects of labour cooperation including skills verification programs and exploring new opportunities for cooperation.
The two sides affirmed their determination to enhance joint cooperation to support the success of the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which was endorsed by G20 leaders at the G20 Summit held under the Presidency of the Kingdom in 2020. They also stressed the importance of raising the level of coordination between the two countries in other international financial forums and organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, in order to support efforts that address the challenges facing global economy.
The two sides also exchanged views on issues of common concern on the regional and international arenas, and affirmed their determination to enhance cooperation and joint coordination towards these issues, and continue their support to all that would establish peace and stability in the region and the world. They stressed the importance of all countries’ commitment to the principles of United Nations Charter and the principles of international law, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity of all countries, non-interference in internal affairs, and resolving disputes by peaceful means.
The two sides also stressed the importance of continuing mutual support to each other’s candidatures in multilateral forums and international organizations. Both sides stressed the importance of comprehensive reforms of the United Nations Security Council including through expansion of the Council in both permanent and non-permanent membership so that it is reflective of contemporary realities.
The Saudi side expressed gratitude for India’s support for invitation extended to Saudi Arabia to join BRICS.
The two sides affirmed their full support for the international and regional efforts aimed at reaching a comprehensive political solution to the crisis in Yemen. The Indian side appreciated the Kingdom’s many initiatives aimed at encouraging dialogue between the Yemeni parties, and its role in providing and facilitating access of humanitarian aid to all regions of Yemen. The Saudi side also appreciated the Indian effort in providing humanitarian aid to Yemen. The two sides stressed the importance of supporting the Presidential Leadership Council in the Republic of Yemen. The two sides also appreciated the international efforts to reinforce commitment to the armistice, and stressed the importance of the positive engagements by all Yemeni parties with international efforts aimed at ending the Yemeni crisis and dealing positively with peace initiatives and efforts.
The two sides expressed their hope for achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East based on the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant UN resolutions, to guarantee the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
The two sides stressed the importance of achieving security and stability in Afghanistan and forming an inclusive government that represents all spectrums of the Afghan people, and not allowing Afghanistan to be used as a platform or safe haven for terrorist and extremist groups. They also emphasized the importance of a concerted international efforts to combat drug trafficking and provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, and the necessity of its continuation, and facilitating humanitarian aid access to the Afghan people.
Both sides agreed to organize the next meeting of Strategic Partnership Council within next two years as stipulated in the Agreement for SPC.
At the conclusion of the visit, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi for the warm reception and kind hospitality that His Royal Highness and the accompanying delegation received.
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked His Royal Highness and accompanying delegation for visiting India and wished His Royal Highness good health and happiness, and the friendly people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia further progress and advancement.