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  • Ahmed Saleh

Prince Mohammed bin Salman's tour to India concluded with a joint statement

New Delhi, September 11, 2023, At the completion of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's tour to the Republic of India, a joint statement was released. The statement's text reads as follows: On September 11, 2023, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, paid an official visit to the Republic of India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India. This visit was part of efforts to strengthen ties and the strategic partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of India. The President of the Republic of India, Droupadi Murmu, and Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Narendra Modi, attended HRH the Crown Prince's ceremonial reception ceremony at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. In addition, the President of India organized a banquet meal in the Crown Prince's honor. The Saudi side congratulated the Republic of India for holding the G20 Summit successfully from September 9–10, 2023, and praised the excellent planning and leadership that helped the Summit come to a successful conclusion with positive decisions and recommendations. The Indian side appreciated Saudi Arabia's assistance and active participation in the G20 summit.

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, and Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, held formal discussions in which they discussed ways to strengthen the strategic ties between their two brotherly nations. Additionally, opinions on current regional and global concerns were traded. The India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council (SPC), which was established following the signing of an agreement by both leaders in October 2019, had its inaugural meeting during the visit, which the two leaders co-chaired. The two leaders reviewed the work completed within the framework of the Strategic Partnership Council in this regard and expressed satisfaction with the outcomes of the two Ministerial Committees, specifically: (a) the Committee on Political, Security, Social, and Cultural Cooperation and their subcommittees; and (b) the Committee on Economy and Investments and their Joint Working Groups, which have strengthened the strategic partnership between the two countries in a variety of fields. The two executives signed the meeting's minutes at its conclusion.

The following memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were exchanged or signed during the visit: one in the energy sector between the Ministries of New and Renewable Energy of India and Saudi Arabia; one in the fields of digitization and electronic manufacturing between the Ministries of Communication and IT of Saudi Arabia and MEITY of India; one between the CVC of India and the Saudi Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority; and one between the National Archives of India and the King Abdulaziz Foundation of Saudi Arabia.

Both sides recalled the illustrious and cordial ties between Saudi Arabia and India, the foundation of which has been long-standing human interactions. Trust, mutual understanding, friendliness, cooperation, and respect for each other's interests characterize the relations between the two nations. Both parties acknowledged their delight with how the two countries' connections have grown and developed in a variety of areas, including politics, trade, investment, energy, defense, and people-to-people contacts.

The Saudi side received praise from the Indian side for providing first-rate care for the more than 2.4 million Indians living in the Kingdom. The Indian side also expressed its gratitude for Saudi Arabia's full cooperation with Indian authorities in Operation Kaveri's evacuation of Indian people trapped in Sudan via Jeddah. The Indian side commended Saudi Arabia for successfully hosting the Hajj pilgrimage this year and expressed its gratitude for the two nations' exceptional coordination in making it possible for Indians to travel for the Hajj and Umrah.

The two parties emphasized the significance of strengthening collaboration in areas intended to improve the two nations' economic alliance.

The two sides emphasized the significance of energy cooperation as a key tenet of their strategic partnership and the necessity of promoting communication and cooperation between oil-producing and oil-consuming nations in order to support the stability of the world's oil markets and guarantee the security of energy supply sources on international markets. The Saudi side reaffirmed the Kingdom's commitment to the Republic of India as a trustworthy partner and supplier of crude oil supplies.

In addition to working together in the area of hydrogen and its derivatives, the two sides look forward to expanding their current collaborative collaboration in the areas of power and grid interconnection between the two nations.

In order to hasten the construction of the West Coast Refinery, the two sides decided to explore collaborative projects to convert oil into petrochemicals in their respective nations. The two parties decided to investigate potential investment prospects in both countries in the fields of fertilizers and intermediate, transformative, and specialty petrochemicals.

Both parties agreed to consider working together to promote the use of sustainable advanced hydrocarbon materials, improve energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption in the building, industrial, and transportation sectors, and increase public awareness of these issues. In order to increase the resiliency and effectiveness of energy supplies, it is also important to work together on developing capacity in the field of energy efficiency, developing supply chains while ensuring their sustainability in the energy sector, and fostering corporate collaboration.

The two sides reiterated the significance of upholding the principles of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with regard to climate change. India applauded the Kingdom for taking the lead in addressing climate change issues in the Middle East and globally, including the "Saudi Green" and "Middle East Green" initiatives. The Kingdom launched the circular carbon economy approach, which the G20 leaders supported as a comprehensive and balanced approach to managing emissions with all currently available clean technologies, and initiatives on reducing land degradation and restoring green plants (vegetation) were also welcomed. India's efforts to combat climate change through programs like the International Solar Alliance, One Sun, One World, One Grid, the Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), and Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) were applauded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Both parties agreed that Saudi Arabia and India are two of the few developed nations with sizable economies that are seeing strong growth. The Indian side commended the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on its reform and economic diversification efforts as part of Vision 2030 and expressed hope for a bigger role for Indian businesses, experts, and employees in the country's development. The Saudi side commended the Republic of India for its goal of having a developed India by 2047, which would also be the year when India would be celebrating its 100th anniversary of independence.

Given the enormous opportunities provided by the two major economies in fields like conventional and renewable energy, agriculture, food security, chemicals, communications and technology, tourism, culture, health care, industry, mining, and pharmaceuticals, the two sides emphasized the importance of promoting direct and indirect investments across all fields between the two countries.

The importance of the investment framework cooperation program (FCP) between the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Investment and Invest India, which aims to strengthen investment cooperation and advance shared objectives, was emphasized by both parties.

The importance of the private sector in their economic partnership was emphasized by both parties, as was the need to encourage business sectors in the two nations to increase communication in order to take advantage of promising trade and investment opportunities and turn them into real partnerships.

Both parties praised the important steps taken by both governments to enhance the business climate, simplify and rationalize the regulations governing the relaxation of the laws governing foreign direct investment, increase the convenience of doing business, and implement reforms in India. Both parties talked about ways to make it easier for Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and the firms it invests in to make investments. The continued discussions on the Bilateral Investment Treaty, the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Customs Matters were also noted by both parties.

Due to the economic transformation that both nations are experiencing, including Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 and India's Make in India, Start-up India, and Digital India initiatives, both sides have expressed an interest in deepening their economic ties and exploring potential investment opportunities in various strategic sectors in order to achieve mutual economic benefits for both nations.

The India-Saudi Investment Forum was organized in conjunction with the visit, and both parties welcomed its establishment in order to further promote trade and investments and deepen economic relations between the two nations.

In order to assist the Indian community generally and the Hajj/Umrah pilgrims in particular, the two parties decided to look into prospects for collaboration in the area of payment systems, including the acceptance of the RuPAY card in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They also agreed to continue talking about fintech collaboration.

The value of trade in the two-way connection was acknowledged. Both parties applauded the expanding trade connections and mentioned that in 2022–2023, bilateral trade reached more than US$ 52 billion, an increase of more than 23%. Both parties acknowledged that Saudi Arabia and India are each other's second and fourth major trading partners, respectively. In the field of trade remedies, both parties decided to expand their bilateral collaboration. While appreciating the expansion of commerce between the two friendly nations, all parties emphasized the significance of continuing their collaborative efforts to strengthen and diversify bilateral trade. Both parties agreed that early FTA negotiations between India and the GCC should begin.

In order to further their strategic interests, the two parties also expressed a desire to strengthen and expand their collaboration in the mining and industrial sectors.

The importance of food security for both countries was stressed by both parties. They expressed their desire for continued cooperation between the two nations in the areas of the environment, agriculture, food security, and food processing industries. They also welcomed the expansion of the private sector in the two nations to form investment partnerships in the agricultural and food industries.

The two sides agreed to intensify their cooperation in these areas in order to build a better digital future for the two nations' future generations. These areas included communications and information technology, the digital economy, innovation and space, remote sensing, satellite communication, and satellite-based navigation. Both parties praised the continuous collaboration between their respective space agencies.

The two sides emphasized the significance of collaboration and teamwork to grow the logistics and transport industries, particularly in the areas of air travel and ports, in a way that serves the shared interests of the two friendly nations.

The two sides stated a desire to increase their working relationship in the medical profession and support international efforts to combat pandemics, present and potential health dangers, and other difficulties. In the areas of medicine and biotechnology, both parties agreed to significantly increase their cooperation. The Fourth Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance, which is scheduled to take place in November 2024 and supports the One Health approach in order to find practical and long-lasting solutions and increase readiness and preparedness for antimicrobial resistance, was announced by the Kingdom, which the Indian side noted with appreciation.

The two sides applauded the expanding defense sector cooperation and decided to keep working toward achieving their shared goals and advancing security and stability through high-level visits, joint exercises, and training. They were pleased with the cooperative naval exercise "Al Mohed Al Hindi" that took place in 2021 and 2023. They praised the conclusions of the Joint Committee on Defense Cooperation's 5th meeting, which was held in New Delhi in June 2022, as well as the many initiatives carried out by this committee. They also agreed to keep exploring the prospects for collaborative defense equipment research and manufacturing.

The two sides hailed their successful security-related cooperation and reaffirmed their intention to expand it in order to advance security and stability for the two friendly nations. Additionally, they stressed the significance of enhancing bilateral cooperation in the areas of maritime security, cyber security, fighting transnational crime, and drug and drug trafficking. The necessity of cooperation in advancing strategies to guarantee waterway security and safety as well as freedom of navigation in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was acknowledged by both parties.

Additionally, both parties emphasized the significance of enhancing security cooperation in the areas of preventing terrorism and finance. Both parties highlighted that terrorism continues to pose one of the greatest challenges to humanity in all of its manifestations. They both concurred that there is never any excuse for a terrorist act, regardless of the motivation. Any attempt to connect terrorism to a specific race, religion, or culture was rejected. Both parties urged all states to oppose the use of terrorism against other nations, demolish any infrastructure supporting terrorism where it exists, and speedily bring terrorists to justice. Both parties emphasized the necessity of restricting access to weaponry, such as missiles and drones, in order to stop terrorist attacks against other nations.

Given the tourism potential of each nation, the two sides decided to promote travel between them. For the sake of the tourism industry and its growth, they underlined their determination to share experiences in this area and strengthen collaborative work on sustainable tourism.

The Indian side received gratitude from the Saudi side for restoring e-visas for Saudi nationals.

The necessity of strengthening collaboration and partnership in sports programs and activities, as well as strengthening cultural interaction between the two friendly nations, was emphasized by both sides. The two parties decided to promote interpersonal and cultural exchanges on both a private and official level.

Both parties welcomed the increased level of scientific and educational cooperation between the two countries in the areas of higher education, research, and innovation. To ensure that everyone has access to a thorough education of the highest caliber, they also fostered direct relationships between universities and scientific and educational institutes in the two countries.

The two parties decided to expand their current media cooperation and talk about ways to expand it in the areas of radio, television, news organizations, and the press, as well as to share their experiences and arrange for reciprocal media visits.

The two sides emphasized the depth and significance of their existing bilateral ties in the areas of labor and human resources, and they encouraged cooperation in efforts to advance labor cooperation initiatives like skills verification programs and the exploration of new opportunities.

The G20 leaders that supported the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) during the G20 Summit held under the Kingdom's Presidency in 2020 reaffirmed their commitment to advancing their bilateral cooperation. In order to promote initiatives that address the issues facing the global economy, they also emphasized the significance of improving coordination between the two nations in other international financial forums and organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Additionally, the two sides discussed issues of mutual concern on the regional and international levels. They reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing cooperation and joint coordination on these issues, as well as to continuing to support all efforts to bring about peace and stability in the area and around the world. They emphasized the significance of all nations' adherence to the fundamentals of the United Nations Charter and international law: respect for sovereignty, the territorial integrity of all nations, non-interference in internal affairs, and peaceful resolution of disputes.

The two parties also emphasized the significance of continuing to support one another's candidacies in multilateral forums and international organizations. Both parties emphasized the significance of thorough reforms to the UN Security Council, including membership expansion (both permanent and non-permanent) to make it more representative of modern reality.

The Saudi side thanked India for supporting Saudi Arabia's request to join the BRICS.

The two parties reaffirmed their unwavering support for the global and regional initiatives aimed at finding a thorough political resolution to the Yemeni conflict. The Indian side appreciated the Kingdom's numerous initiatives to foster communication between Yemen's parties as well as its assistance in supplying and facilitating access to humanitarian aid in all of Yemen's regions. The Saudi side also acknowledged the Indian initiative to help Yemen in a humanitarian capacity. The two parties emphasized the significance of backing the Presidential Leadership Council in the Republic of Yemen. The two sides also praised international efforts to strengthen adherence to the armistice and emphasized the significance of all Yemeni parties participating positively in international efforts to resolve the country's issue and advance peace efforts.

In order to protect the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, the two sides underlined their hope for a just, comprehensive, and long-lasting peace in the Middle East based on the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant UN resolutions.

The two parties emphasized the significance of bringing about security and stability in Afghanistan, establishing an inclusive government that reflects all segments of the Afghan population, and preventing terrorist and extremist groups from using Afghanistan as a base or safe haven. They also stressed the significance of coordinated international efforts to combat drug trafficking, deliver humanitarian relief to Afghanistan, and facilitate the Afghan people's access to that aid.

According to the terms of the SPC Agreement, all parties committed to scheduling the next Strategic Partnership Council meeting within the following two years.

Crown Prince and Prime Minister His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud thanked Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for the gracious welcome he and the delegation he was traveling with received at the end of their visit. In addition to thanking HRH the Crown Prince and the delegation that accompanied him for visiting India, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi also wished HRH the Crown Prince good health and happiness and wished the welcoming Saudi Arabian people continued success.

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