New Delhi: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed-bin Salman will arrive in New Delhi on Tuesday on his maiden visit to the country. India is likely to raise the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and the two countries are expected to sign ties to enhance cooperation in various fields during the “landmark event in high-level bilateral ties”.
“Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visit to India will be a landmark event in the history of our high-level bilateral engagements and they will certainly take an upward strategic direction, Arab News quoted Indian ambassador in Riyadh Ahmad Javed as saying.
MBS, as the Saudi Crown Prince is also known, will hold bilateral talks during his two-day visit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a wide range of issues of mutual interest including counter-terrorism, defence and security. India and Saudi Arabia are also expected to sign five MoUs in fields ranging from defence, healthcare etc.
According to the External Affairs Ministry, the talks on investment of US $44 billion by Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) in Ratnagiri Refinery project are also likely to take place. The Saudi crown prince will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, senior officials and leading Saudi businessmen.
The visit by MBS could be considered as important after the Pulwama terror attack, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed by Pakistan-backed JeM terrorist group, as India adopted coercive diplomacy against Pakistan.
In addition, there is a big transformation in Saudi understanding of terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir in the last few years. Saudi made a very strong denouncement of Pulwama terror attack and did not accept Pakistan’s narrative.
India and Saudi Arabia are also expected to hold joint Naval exercises in the near future in efforts to deepen the defence ties. Recently, Saudi Arabia has ranked India as the 8th strategic partner. Bilateral trade between the countries stood at US$ 27.48 billion during the last financial year 2017-18.
During the forthcoming visit, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia will call on President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu. The visit follows the highly successful visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in April 2016.
India and Saudi Arabia have historically enjoyed close and friendly relations anchored in mutually beneficial partnership and extensive people to people contacts. In recent years, there has been significant progress in bilateral cooperation in key areas of mutual interest, including energy security, trade and investment, infrastructure, defence and security.
About 2.7 million strong and vibrant Indian community forms the largest expatriate group in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia also facilitates Hajj pilgrimage to over 1,75,000 Indians every year. The Saudi Crown Prince has embarked on a four-country Asian tour that besides India, also includes Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia. He recently concluded his Pakistan visit.