India and Saudi Arabia on Monday decided to expedite the implementation of the 50 billion dollar West Coast refinery project. Both the countries identified energy, defence, semiconductor and space as areas for intensified cooperation during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
At the first India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council meeting, the two sides agreed to diversify the current status of their hydrocarbon relationship into a “comprehensive energy partnership” and inked eight pacts to boost cooperation in a range of areas including digitisation and investment.
“Both sides extended their full support to the early implementation of the West Coast refinery project, which is a trilateral cooperation between ARAMCO, ADNOC and Indian companies,” Ausaf Sayeed, secretary (overseas Indian affairs) in the External Affairs Ministry, said.
At a media briefing, Mr Sayeed said different areas of cooperation such as energy, defence, security, education, technology, transportation, healthcare, tourism and culture were identified in the talks between the two leaders.
The two sides also held deliberations on power grid, gas grid, optical grids and fibre networks for possible cooperation.
Mohammed Bin Salman is on a day-long State visit to India following the end of the G20 Summit.
PM Modi and the Saudi leader co-chaired the first meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council that was established in October 2019.
Mr Sayeed said both PM Modi and Crown Prince Bin Salman extended their “full support” to the early implementation of the West Coast refinery project for which funds to the tune of USD 50 billion are already earmarked.
“The two sides agreed to set up a joint task force to help in identifying and channelising the USD 100 billion investments which was promised by the Saudi side half of which was for the refinery,” he said.
The West Coast refinery project is to come up in Maharashtra. The mega refinery-cum-petrochemicals complex project was first announced in 2015.
The two sides also decided to have a monitoring committee to ensure that the refinery projects are done as per the plans laid out by both sides.
Earlier, Bin Salman was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The visiting leader and Modi held one-on-one talks before the Strategic Partnership Council meeting. Modi also hosted a working lunch for the Saudi leader.
In the meeting, the two sides welcomed the launch of the India-Middle East economic corridor.
“I am very glad to be here in India. I want to congratulate India for the G20 Summit,” Bin Salman said after the ceremonial welcome.
The Saudi leader said the announcements made at the Summit will benefit the world.
“We will work together to create a great future for both countries,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is one of India’s key strategic partners in the Middle East.
The overall relations between the two countries have witnessed a significant upward trajectory in the last few years.
The two sides have also been focusing on strengthening their defence and security partnership.
The then Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane visited Saudi Arabia in December 2020 in the first-ever visit by the head of the 1.3 million-strong Army to the important Gulf nation.
Since then, there have been a series of visits of high-ranking military officials between the two sides
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)