NEW DELHI (AP) — India and Saudi Arabia agreed Monday to expand trade and security ties, two days after their leaders and others attending a Group of 20 summit announced a new railways and port corridor deal that will link India, Middle East and Europe.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met in New Delhi and chaired a meeting of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council. The two leaders discussed issues ranging from energy security, trade and investment to defense, health care and food security, India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
The India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council, established in 2019, serves as a platform between the two countries to increase ties.
During last week’s G20 summit, India, Saudi Arabia, the United States, the European Union and other countries announced an ambitious rail and shipping corridor that will link India with the Middle East and Europe in a bid to strengthen economic growth and political cooperation.
Experts see it as alternative to China’s own nation-spanning infrastructure program.
In a televised press statement, Modi called Saudi Arabia one of India’s “most important strategic partners.”
He said the “corridor will not only connect the two countries, but will also strengthen economic cooperation, energy development and digital connectivity between Asia, West Asia and Europe.”
Ahead of the talks, Prince Mohammed was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Presidential Palace in New Delhi. He is on a three-day trip to India that included the G20 summit.
India views Saudi Arabia as one of its most important strategic partners in the Middle East. Trade between the countries stood at over $52.8 billion in the fiscal year 2022-2023.