Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to arrive in New Delhi on February 19 on his first visit to the nation. India is expected to raise several issues including Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and attacks, as well as the two countries are also expected to sign agreements bolstering countries’ bilateral and diplomatic relations in various key areas during the “landmark event in high-level bilateral ties”.
According to ANI news reports, Indian ambassador to Riyadh Ahmad Javed was quoted by Arab News as saying: “Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman visit to India will be a landmark event in the history of our high-level bilateral engagements and they will certainly take an upward strategic direction.”
Salman, who also known as MBS, is on a two-day official visit to India, will hold bilateral dialogues with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi over wide range issues of their mutual interest which includes security, defence and counter-terrorism. Saudi and India are expected to ink five MoUs in areas ranging from healthcare, defence etc.
According to external affairs ministry, the dialogues over the investment of about US $44 billion by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Saudi Aramco in Ratnagiri refinery project are likely to take place.
MBS will be accompanied by a top-level delegation team, which will include the minister of defence of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and vice president of the council of ministers, leading Saudi businessman and senior officials.
The visit by MBS could consider being more important as India adopted coercive diplomacy against debt-ridden Pakistan country, after the Pulwama terror attack which claimed lives of about 44 CRPF personnel in India-occupied Kashmir on February 14, by Pakistani backed and based Jaish e-Mohammed terrorist organization. Saudi has strongly denounced the Pulwama terror attack and also did not accept Islamabad narratives over the incident.
Also, Saudi and India are expected to hold joint Naval exercises in an effort to deepen their defence ties, in the near future.
Saudi has, recently, ranked India as the 8th strategic partner of it. Bilateral trade between both countries has stood at around the US $27.48 billion during its last financial year of 2017-18.
During the visit by MBS, he will call on India President Ram Nath Kovind as well as vice president of India, Venkaiah Naidu. In some recent years, there have been several significant progress in bilateral ties cooperation in main fields of mutual interest, also including defence and security, infrastructure, trade and investment, and energy security.
Around 2.7million of Indian community forms a large group in Saudi Arabia. Saudi also facilitates Hajj pilgrimage to over 1,75,000 Indians every year.