India, Saudi Arabia agrees to boost mutual relationship
Saudi Arabia has become ready to ripen bilateral economic relationship with India by enhancing mutual free-trading and bilateral investment in both the countries. Both the countries have decided to introduce multilateral entry-visa for businessmen under apex chambers of business and commerce of both the countries, informed spokesperson of external affairs Ministry, Navtej Sarna at a press conference in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia after concluding the meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Saudi Prince Saud bin Al-Faisal on Sunday.
Pranab Mukharjee was in Saudi Arabia for two-day visit to continue the talks of Saudi prince’s last year’s visit to India.
Interacting to media, Sarna said that the meeting between both the counterparts was very successful. In the two-hour ‘warm’ and ‘cordial’ meeting, both the countries became ready to explore opportunities of investment in both the countries, while Saudi Arabia has accepted India’s proposal to set up joint investment fund.
India has proposed to join Saudi oil companies in searching and exploring oil sources in India. “The Saudi minister welcomed Indian oil companies to come and explore possibilities of joint ventures with Saudi oil companies,” said Sarna.
‘India has also proposed to set up a joint investment fund to explore the huge market of both the countries. To convert seller- buyer relationship to a more participatory, India has expressed to explore oil and gas resources in Saudi Arabia while invited the hosting nation to enter the gigantic Indian market,’ as per Sarna informed media.
At present, India has more than eight percent growth rate and a large market.
Mukherjee also raised the issue of long-term multi-entry visa for elite businessmen that were approved by Saudi Prince. Now, the genuine businessmen of both the country would boost their business in a broad manner. The apex chambers of business and commerce will be overlooking this matter.
The two sides also discussed the idea to regulate Foreign Office level consultations to boost ties and the situation of Indo-Pakistan relationship. The critical situation of Middle East and Gulf region was also among the serious discussion.
India appreciated the Saudi Arabia’s arrangement for India’s 1.5 lakh of Haj pilgrims while Saud raised the issue to enhance cooperation in the field of education, IT and science and technology.
India is at present the fifth largest trading partner of Saudi Arabia with non-oil bilateral trading worth USD 3.67-billion as it imports 26-million tonnes of hydrocarbon every year from Saudi Arabia, while last year India imported USD 12-billion worth oils.
Responding to this, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna quoted the Saudi Foreign Minister said to media, "Indian companies are welcome to explore possibilities and identify projects."
In his two-day visit, Pranab also met to Governor of Riyadh Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and discussed on various issues. The meet was gone for 40 minutes.
Saudi Prince has expressed desire to his maiden visit in India by February next year. Pranab returned to India after concluding the meeting with Riyadh Prince on Sunday.
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