Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Saudi Arabia on a two-day official visit during which he will deliver the keynote address under the title ‘What’s next for India?’ at the forum, which is dubbed as ‘Davos in the Desert’ and will ink several key agreements including the one to set up the Strategic Partnership Council to elevate the India-Saudi ties to a new level.
PM Modi will also hold bilateral talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two sides are expected to also sign a number of agreements in several key sectors including oil and gas, renewable energy and civil aviation to bolster their ties.
PM Modi will also attend the three-day Future Investment Initiative (FII), as the forum is officially known, 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.
In a departure statement, PM Modi said he is visiting the Kingdom at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
"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.
He noted that defence, security, trade, culture, education and people-to-people contacts are the other important areas of bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia.
This would be Prime Minister Modi’s second visit to the Gulf Kingdom. During his first visit in 2016, King Salman conferred Saudi’s highest civilian award on him. The Crown Prince visited India in February 2019, giving a further fillip to the bilateral ties.
India’s relations with Saudi Arabia have been on an upswing over the last few years. India’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was at USD 27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner.
Saudi Arabia last month said that it was looking at investing USD 100 billion in India in areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining.
With Agency Inputs