India, Saudi Arabia establish Strategic Partnership Council, sign pacts on defence and aviation

India and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday signed a dozen pacts in various key sectors, including oil and gas, defence and civil aviation, to bolster relations, reported. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was on a two-day visit to the country, held discussions with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A Strategic Partnership Council was also formed between the two countries to coordinate on decisions involving strategically important matters. It will be led by Modi and the crown prince. After the United Kingdom, France, and China, India is the fourth country to form a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, according to The Indian Express.

“The two sides stressed that extremism and terrorism threaten all nations and societies,” a joint statement said. “They rejected any attempt to link this universal phenomenon to any particular race, religion or culture.” The two nations also reasserted their strong commitment to strengthening the strategic ties envisaged in the Riyadh Declaration of March 2010, the statement added.

India and Saudi Arabia agreed on the significance of bilateral engagement to promote means to establish the security of waterways in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf regions from the threats that might affect the interests of the two sides. A pact was signed to ensure coordination between e-migration systems of the two nations.

A Memorandum of Understanding was inked to roll out RuPay card in the Gulf Kingdom, which makes Saudi Arabia the third country in the Persian Gulf to introduce the Indian digital payment system. The other two countries are the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, according to .

The two countries promised to enhance the collaboration of defence industries and security cooperation, and go ahead on the west coast refinery project in Maharashtra’s Raigarh. The project will see investments from Saudi oil company Aramco, UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and India’s public sector firms.

A Memorandum of Understanding was sealed between Saudi Aramco and the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited, and on a joint venture between Saudi firm Al Jeri and the Indian Oil Middle East.

Ahead of the talks, Modi had pointed out that Saudi Arabia was India’s second-largest supplier of oil – providing about 18% of its energy needs. Economic Relations Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs TS Tirumurti said Modi thanked the Saudi king for ensuring that crude oil is regularly exported to India, despite the attacks on facilities of Saudi Aramco’s facilities recently.

At a keynote address at the Future Investment Initiative conference, the Indian prime minister said the United Nations needs reform, and regretted that some countries have used the organisation as a “tool” rather than as an institution to resolve conflicts.

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