Saudi prince expects investment worth more than $100 bln in India
(Adds more detail)
By Sanjeev Miglani
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman said on Wednesday he expected investment
opportunities worth more than $100 billion in India over the
next two years as he began his first official visit amid
tensions between arch foes India and Pakistan.
India rolled out the red carpet for the crown prince as it
seeks diplomatic support against Pakistan following a militant
attack in the disputed region of Kashmir.
The crown prince, whose country is facing frosty ties with
Western countries after the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal
Khashoggi, was also given a lavish welcome this week in Pakistan
where the two sides signed memoranda of understanding valued at
about $20 billion to help prop up Pakistan's economy.
In a joint press appearance after talks with Indian Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, the crown prince said terrorism was a
common concern and Saudi Arabia was ready to share intelligence
with India to tackle it.
The two countries will start a security dialogue at the
level of national security advisors and set up a working group
on counter-terrorism, said T.S. Tirumurti, who handles economic
relations at India's foreign ministry.
"Both leaders called on all countries to renounce the use of
terrorism as an instrument of state policy," Tirumurti told a
India blames Pakistan for not doing enough to counter
militant groups that operate from its soil including the one
that claimed responsibility for the Kashmir car bombing last
Pakistan denies any involvement in cross-border terrorism
and has said it would retaliate against an Indian attack.
"We face similar challenges, chief among them extremism and
terrorism … and we reaffirm to India that we are ready to work
in the intelligence and political arenas to coordinate our
efforts…” the crown prince said.
Saudi Arabia’s domestic security structure helped put down
an al Qaeda bombing campaign over a decade ago. But the kingdom
continues to face occasional attacks by Sunni Islamic State
fighters and Shi’ite militants in its Eastern Province.
Riyadh leads a coalition of Arab states fighting in support
of Yemen’s internationally recognised government against the
Iran-aligned Houthi fighters, who regularly fire rockets across
the kingdom’s southern border.
On trade relations, the crown prince said "we expect the
opportunities we are targeting in India in various fields to
exceed $100 billion in the coming two years".
Sectors of interest included energy, infrastructure,
agriculture and manufacturing, Tirumurti said, adding that Saudi
Arabia's focus was on expanding non-oil trade with India.
Giant petroleum and natural gas company Saudi Aramco said it
was in talks with India's Reliance Industries Ltd for
possible investments and was seeking other opportunities.
Both India and Pakistan had expected a scaling up of
investments on the crown prince's first tour of the region since
the storm over the murder of Khashoggi, a Washington Post
columnist and critic of the Saudi government, at the Saudi
consulate in Istanbul in October.
The killing has strained Saudi Arabia’s ties with the West
and battered the prince’s image abroad. He is also visiting
China on this trip.
The European Commission has added Saudi Arabia to an EU
draft list of countries that pose a threat to the bloc because
of lax controls against terrorism financing and money
laundering, sources told Reuters last month.
Modi has sought to use India's fast-growing economy to
attract more investment from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic
nations since he took office.
The two countries signed agreements on investment in
infrastructure, housing sector and tourism.
(Additional reporting by Dahlia Nehme, Stephen Kalin, Neha
Dasgupta, Devjyot Ghoshal and Aditya Kalra
Editing by Nick Macfie and Frances Kerry)
First Published: 2019-02-20 08:57:33
Updated 2019-02-20 16:03:04
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