New Delhi: India and Saudi Arabia share many security concerns and have been cooperating in the fight against terrorism, President Pranab Mukherjee said Thursday.
Welcoming the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who called on him at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here, the president said: “Relations between India and Saudi Arabia will be greatly strengthened by this visit.
“India cherishes its cordial and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, which are deep-rooted in history and based on the foundation of close people-to-people contacts,” he added.
He said the MoU signed Wednesday will help defence personnel of the two countries work closely and learn from the experiences of each other. Both countries are vulnerable to the scourge of terrorism.
The visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Riyadh in 2010 transformed the relationship between India and Saudi Arabia to one of strategic partnership, Mukherjee said.
The president said India shares many security concerns with Saudi Arabia. He expressed happiness that the two countries have been cooperating in the fight against terrorism, including exchange of information relating to terrorist activities on money laundering, narcotics, arms and human trafficking.
Bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia has grown significantly to exceed USD 43 billion in 2012-13. There is still a lot that can be achieved together, he said. Mukherjee said there is a need to diversify trade relations to non-oil trade sectors (Saudi Arabia is India’s biggest oil supplier). Indian globally reputed companies, with expertise and competence in infrastructure development, are keen to work in upcoming projects in Saudi Arabia.
India invites Saudi investors to actively participate in development of its infrastructure, especially construction projects for highways, ports, airports, metros, supply chains and warehousing and power plants which are being regularly launched in India, the president remarked.
He conveyed his sincere thanks to the crown prince for ensuring the well-being and safety of Indians in Saudi Arabia, who number over 2.8 million.
The crown prince, who is also the defence minister and deputy prime minister of Saudi Arabia, warmly reciprocated Mukherjee’s words and said India-Saudi Arabia relations.