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Readout by Secretary (ER) on Visit of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to India

February 19, 2019

1. At the invitation of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be on his first State visit to India on 19 and 20 February, 2019. He will be accompanied by a High-Level official delegation as well as a large business delegation.

2. Prime Minister and the Crown Prince have met recently in November last year on the sidelines of G20 in Buenos Aires. During the visit of Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia in April 2016, High Royal Highness had met Prime Minister as the then Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defence of Saudi Arabia.

3. The Crown Prince will be arriving on 19th February, 2019. The next day, i.e., 20th February, 2019 would be the main day of engagements of the visit. He will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

4. Prime Minister Modi will hold delegation-level talks with Crown Prince and his delegation at Hyderabad House. Prime Minister will host a lunch in honour of the visiting dignitary in Hyderabad House.

5. Later in the evening, Crown Prince will call on Hon’ble Rashtrapatiji and a banquet in honour of the visiting dignitary and his delegation will be hosted at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

6. Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner in our extended neighbourhood. The Riyadh Declaration of 2010 had forged a Strategic Partnership between India and Saudi Arabia. Relations between India and Saudi Arabia are rooted in strong historical and civilisational links. Our mutually beneficial partnership encompasses active cooperation in a wide spectrum of spheres. Our relations received a huge boost during the visit of Prime Minister Modi in April 2016. Since then, there has been an intensification of our engagement.

7. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned and denounced the terrorist attack on Indian security forces in Pulwama on 14 February. We appreciate Kingdom’s cooperation in security and counter terrorism areas over the years. During the visit of PM Modi to Saudi Arabia in 2016, an MoU on cooperation in exchange of intelligence related to money laundering and terrorism financing was signed. The Kingdom has shown greater understanding of our terrorism-related concerns and also agreed to work with India in countering this global menace.

8. Our Cooperation in Defence sector will continue to be an important area of our ties. MoU on Defence Cooperation was signed in 2014 during the visit of the then HRH Crown Prince Salman, the present King. You will recall the 4th Joint Defence Cooperation Committee was held in January this year in Riyadh.Both sides are exploring the possibility of elevating this engagement with Joint Production and Joint Exercises, particularly Joint Naval exercises.

9. India has been identified as one of the eight strategic partners with whom Saudi Arabia intends to deepen partnership in areas of political, security, trade and investment and culture. As part of this engagement, we are finalizing the setting up of ‘Strategic Partnership Council’ between the two countries at Ministerial level. We are confident that this will give greater thrust to our Strategic Partnership and take forward our discussions in a focussed and action-oriented manner. This engagement has already begun between concerned authorities of both the countries in select sectors of mutual interest especially in trade, investment and economic issues.

10. Our bilateral trade was US$ 27.48 billion during the last financial year 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia our 4th largest trading partner recording about 10% growth compared to 2016-17.

11. Saudi Arabia is the key pillar to our energy security being a source of 17% or more of crude oil and 32% of LPG requirements of India. Recently, Saudi ARAMCO in partnership with ADNOC of UAE has agreed to partner in Ratnagiri Refinery and Petro-Chemical project Ltd. a Joint Venture of US$ 44 billion. Indian partners are IOC, BPCL & HPCL. We hope to transform this buyer-seller relationship in energy to a broad-based partnership.

12. Other areas of interest for joint collaboration are fertilizers, food security, infrastructure, renewable energy, etc. In the recent meeting which NITI Aayog-led delegation had with their Saudi counterpart, areas such as ICT, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, electronic and manufacturing facilities, housing, etc. were identified as potential areas of enhanced cooperation.

13. Saudi Arabia itself is undertaking large development projects including Smart City, Red Sea Tourism Project and Entertainment City where the Indian companies will be looking forward to participate in these projects.

14. We are also looking forward to greater collaboration in the area of civil aviation, where there is considerable potential for enhanced links, especially in the context of increasing trade, tourism and in enhancing convenience of travel.

15. Saudi Arabia has conveyed that they will be joining ‘International Solar Alliance’ initiative. This is indeed welcome.

16. India was accorded the ‘Guest of Honour’ status at the prestigious ‘Janadriyah Festival’ - Annual Cultural and Heritage Festival of Saudi Arabia – in 2018, adding a new dimension to our relationship. External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj inaugurated the Festival and had also called on HM King Salman during her visit.

17. Both sides are expected to sign Five MoUs/ Agreements during the visit in areas of investment, tourism, housing and information & broadcasting.

18. About 2.7 million strong and vibrant Indian community forms the largest expatriate group in Saudi Arabia. They send a remittance of over US$ 11 billion annually. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also facilitates Hajj pilgrimage to over 1,75,000 Indians every year.

19. We are confident that this visit will open a new chapter in India-Saudi bilateral relationship.

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