S Jaishankar’s first official visit to Saudi Arabia| Why it is important for India?

S Jaishankar's first official visit to Saudi Arabia

What has happened –

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday concluded his first official visit to Saudi Arabia, During which he reviewed all aspects of India-Saudi Arabia bilateral relations and discussed regional and global issues.
  • Jaishankar arrived in Riyadh on September 10, 2022. During the visit, he called on Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammed bin Salman on September 11 in Jeddah and Handed over a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveying greetings on the upcoming National Day of Saudi Arabia on September 23 and Reiterating an invitation to Crown Prince to visit India at an early date.

Meeting with the foreign minister –

  • Earlier, on September 11 afternoon the EAM met the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Riyadh. The two Ministers co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation (PSSC), under the framework of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic.
  • Both Ministers assessed the progress in bilateral relations positively across all domains including political, trade, energy, investments, defence, security and culture.
  • Several areas were identified for further enhancing bilateral cooperation such as food security, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, defence industry and entertainment. They also discussed greater coordination between the two countries in multilateral organisations, especially the G-20.

MOU with GCC –

  • Jaishankar met the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Dr Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf on September 10 and discussed India-GCC relations. The EAM and GCC Secretary General also signed an MOU on Mechanism of Consultations between India and GCC.
  • The MOU provides for the institutionalization of annual dialogue between India and the GCC and setting up Working Groups on different areas of cooperation, added the release.

Meeting with Indian Community –

  • During the visit, Jaishankar also interacted with the Indian community in Saudi Arabia at an event organized at the Indian Embassy on September 10. The approximately 2.2-million-strong Indian community is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom. He appreciated the contribution of Indian diaspora in facing national challenges.
  • S Jaishankar said India has made powerful efforts to grow its economy and emerge as a higher-income country, As he expressed hope that it will be the fastest growing major economy in the world this year with at least 7% growth despite the challenges posed by the Ukraine crisis. He said that India has made powerful efforts to grow its economy and move towards becoming a higher-income country.
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The problems –

  • India enjoys traditionally cordial relations and cooperation with the GCC. Earlier this year, there was an unease in India’s ties with some Muslim-majority countries, including Gulf nations, over the controversial remarks of two former BJP leaders on the Prophet Mohammad. All six GCC nations had condemned the remarks.
  • Even after India gorging on cheap Russian crude oil in the recent months, Saudi Arabia is not a featherweight when it comes to fulfilling India’s oit energy needs. The country with the largest proven crude oil reserves calls the shots when OPEC has to decide on production cuts and still accounts for 15% of India’s crude oil imports – third highest after Russia (24%) and Iraq (21%), as of June.
  • Thanks to the crude oil imports, India’s balance of trade with the Islamic kingdom is heavily loaded in the latter’s favour, with India importing nearly $23 billion worth of goods from Saudi Arabia, which imported just under $7 billion worth of good and services from India, as of 2021-22 (AprilDecember).
  • The country, which is home to two of the holiest shrines for Muslims at Mecca and Medina, is also home to 2.2 million expat Indians who constitute the largest expat community in the kingdom. There are also around 745 Indian companies registered either as joint ventures or as 100% owned subsidiaries in Saudi Arabia, with investments of around $2 billion.
Sodhi Gautam

Sodhi Gautam

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