India and Saudi Arabia on Monday agreed to deepen cooperation after holding talks on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual concern.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in joint statement issued after talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in New Delhi that both sides reviewed means to deepen the strategic relations between the two countries.

They also exchanged on current regional and international issues as the two leaders co-chaired the India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council. “Both sides expressed satisfaction that the bilateral relations have expanded and deepened across different fields such as political, trade, investment, energy, defence, security, social, cultural and people-to-people ties,” the statement said.

Importance of energy cooperation was highlighted as an important pillar of the strategic partnership between the two countries. They also underlined the importance of supporting stability of global oil markets by encouraging dialogue between producing and consuming countries. The Saudi side promised to be a reliable partner and exporter of crude oil supplies to India.

They also expressed hope to deepen cooperation in the fields of electricity, grid interconnection, hydrogen and its derivatives between the two countries. “The two sides agreed to develop joint projects to transform oil into petrochemicals in the two countries, and providing the necessary support, requirements and enablers to accelerate the project of West Coast Refinery,” the statement said.

They also agreed to explore investment opportunities in the field of fertilizers and petrochemicals in both countries. India and Saudi Arabia also underlined the importance of promoting direct and indirect investment across renewable energy, agriculture, food security, chemicals, communications and technology, tourism, culture, health care, industry, mining, and pharmaceuticals.

“The importance of trade in the bilateral relationship was recognized. Both sides praised the burgeoning trade ties and noted that bilateral trade has increased to more than USD 52 billion in 2022-23, marking a growth of more than 23%,” it said. Both countries wanted to enhance trade cooperation though India is the second largest trade partner of Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest trade partner of India. Both sides also supported the early India-GCC FTA negotiation commencement.

Welcoming the expansion of the private sector into investment partnerships in the agricultural and food industries, both sides emphasized the importance of food security. “They welcomed and affirmed their aspiration to continue cooperation between the two countries in the fields of environment, agriculture, food security, and food processing industries,” it said.

They also affirmed the strengthening of partnership in the areas related to communications and information technology, digital economy, innovation and space, remote sensing, satellite communication and satellite-based navigation, and agreed to enhance cooperation in these areas.

They hailed the cooperation in security fields, and affirmed their desire to enhance the same. “They also emphasized the importance of furthering cooperation between both sides in the areas of cyber security, maritime security, combating transnational crime, narcotics and drug trafficking.” They also stressed the importance of enhancing security cooperation in the field of combating terrorism. They welcomed scientific and educational cooperation in the fields of higher education, research and innovation and encouraged direct relations between universities and scientific and educational institutions.

India and Saudi Arabia expressed support for international and regional efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Yemen. The Indian side appreciated the Saudi initiatives aimed at encouraging dialogue between the Yemeni parties, while the Saudi side appreciated the Indian effort in providing humanitarian aid to Yemen. “The two sides expressed their hope for achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East based on the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant UN resolutions, to guarantee the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” the statement said.

They also underlined the importance of achieving security and stability in Afghanistan. They also supported forming an inclusive government representing all segments of Afghan people and not allowing Afghanistan to be used as a platform or safe haven for terrorist and extremist groups.

Source: Kuwait News Agency