On his first state visit to India, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and the Defence Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, accompanied by a high level official delegation and a large business delegation, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhawan. Prime Minister and the Crown Prince had restricted level talks followed by one on one meeting at Hyderabad House. This was followed by delegation level talks after which Prime Minister hosted a lunch in honor of the visiting dignitary.
His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince called on President Ramnath Kovind who hosted a banquet in honor of the visiting dignitary.
The meeting between the Prime Minister and the Crown Prince was held in an atmosphere of great warmth and friendship testifying to the close rapport between the two leaders. His Royal Highness recounted the centuries old links between the two countries as well as the variety of links which bind our two countries. He recalled his earlier visit to India and expressed great happiness at his coming to India again for his first state visit.
Both sides recalled Prime Minister’s successful visit to Riyadh in 2016, a visit 'which enhanced our engagement and took it to the next level'. They also recalled the highly successful visit of His Majesty Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud in 2014. Both leaders emphasized the strong spirit of friendship that binds the two countries and expressed their commitment to strengthen the strategic partnership of 2010 even further.
His Royal Highness conveyed his appreciation for the Indian model which signifies the ethos of inclusiveness, pluralism and tolerance. To cement the strategic partnership even further both sides agreed to setup a strategic partnership council which will be guided by Prime Minister and the Crown Prince and have ministerial representation covering all aspects of our bilateral relations.
This is an extremely important development in line with the desire of Saudi Arabia to deepen partnership with eight strategic partners one of whom is India. The Prime Minister welcomed the announcement of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince to invest US$100 billion in India in a range of areas like energy refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing etc.
This is a clear reflection of the confidence of Saudi Arabia in the vibrancy of the Indian economy and the tremendous opportunities available in India for investment. They also expressed satisfaction at the positive trend in the bilateral trade in the recent past and the need to tap the untapped potential in trade particularly in non-oil trade. They expressed satisfaction at the first joint venture in energy of a refinery and a petrochemical project estimated at US$44 billion.
They also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s participation in India’s strategic petroleum reserves. The two leaders appreciated various initiatives being taken in their respective countries including Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ and India’s flagship initiatives like Make in India, Startup India, Digital India etc.
The Crown Prince also welcomed Prime Minister’s initiative on Coalition on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and hailed it as an important step towards disaster management.
The two leaders condemned in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attack on Indian forces in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir. They expressed strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They called on all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, cut off any kind of support and financing to terrorists from all territories against other states and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice.
Both leaders called upon all countries to renounce the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy. They called on states to deny access to weapons to commit terrorist acts against other countries. Both leaders underlined the importance of comprehensive sanctioning of terrorists and their organizations by the United Nations. They called for concerted actions by the international community against terrorism and early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
His Royal Highness appreciated consistent efforts made by Prime Minister Modi since May 2014 including Prime Minister’s personal initiatives to have friendly relations with Pakistan. In this context both sides agreed on the need for creation of conditions necessary for resumption of the Comprehensive Dialogue between India and Pakistan.
The Crown Prince highlighted terrorism and extremism as matters of common concern and expressed his determination to cooperate with India to fight this menace particularly through strong intelligence partnership with India. To enhance further cooperation in counter terrorism efforts and benefit mutually from real time intelligence sharing the two leaders agreed to constitute a Comprehensive Security Dialogue at the level of National Security Advisors and set up a joint working group on counter terrorism.
On the defense front the two leaders welcomed the outcome of the recently held Fourth Joint Committee of Defence Cooperation in Riyadh in January this year. They agreed to hold the first joint naval exercises at the earliest and expand our defense relations in other areas like joint exercises, joint production, supply chain development etc.
Both leaders agreed to enhance the cooperation to strengthen maritime security in the gulf and the Indian Ocean region. They agreed to cooperate along with other Indian Ocean Rim countries in serving as the net security provider for the Indian Ocean Region.
On regional connectivity projects both sides agreed that they should be based on universally recognized international norms including respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. The leaders expressed serious concern at cyber terrorism and misuse of cyber space. They agreed to continue ongoing close cooperation in a range of security issues.
Prime Minister thanked the Saudi leadership for hosting a very large Indian community of over 2.7 million and for looking after their welfare. Prime Minister also thanked Saudi Arabia for designating India as the Guest of Honor in the prestigious Janadriyah festival in 2018.
Both leaders agreed to increase the frequency of direct flight of carriers of India and Saudi Arabia by 3,84,000 seats per annum which will give a huge boost to tourism as well as to the large Indian community in Saudi Arabia.
At our request Saudi Arabia have decided to increase the quota for Haj pilgrims from India to two lakhs. This gesture was deeply appreciated. India has also decided to extend e-visa facility to Saudi nationals. Saudi Arabia has also agreed to resolve issues relating to Indian workers who are currently stranded in Saudi Arabia due to the closure of one foreign company. This gesture was also deeply appreciated.
Both sides committed themselves to promote reformed multilateralism in multilateral fora and international organizations including pursuing UN Security Council reforms. We will also work together to address the problems and issues of fugitive economic offenders.
The following MoUs were signed this afternoon.
a)- MoU on investing in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India,
b)- MoU on cooperation in the field of tourism,
c)- MoU on cooperation in the field of housing,
d)- Framework Cooperation Agreement in Invest India and Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority,
f)- MoU on cooperation in broadcasting for exchange of audio visual programs and finally,
g)- Agreement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to join the International Solar Alliance.