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India, Saudi Arabia vow to strengthen ties

India, Saudi Arabia vow to strengthen ties
Highlights

Modi calls on Saudi King, meets top ministers

Riyadh: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called on Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the two leaders exchanged views on working closely together to strengthen the bilateral ties.

Before his meeting with the Saudi King, top ministers of the Gulf nation called on the Prime Minister and discussed ways to further deepen bilateral ties in areas of energy, labour, agriculture and water technologies.

"A relationship reflecting centuries-old ties! Prime Minister Narendra Modi was warmly welcomed by Saudi King HM @KingSalman underlining a new dimension to our expanding relationship.

His Majesty hosted a lunch in honour of Prime Minister," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

Modi arrived in Riyadh late on Monday night on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia to participate in the high-profile financial summit Future Investment Initiative, dubbed "Davos in the desert", an initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

This is his second visit to the Gulf Kingdom. During his first visit in 2016, King Salman conferred Saudi's highest civilian award on him. The Crown Prince visited India in February 2019, giving a further fillip to the bilateral ties.

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Labour and Social Development Ahmad bin Sulaiman Alrajhi and Environment, Water and Agriculture Minister Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadley were among the ministers who called on Prime Minister Modi in the Saudi capital on Tuesday.

The Saudi energy minister had a productive meeting with the Prime Minister and the two leaders "talked about efforts to improve energy cooperation between the two nations," the Prime Minister's office tweeted.

The meeting assumes significance as the two countries have decided to move ahead on the ambitious west coast refinery project in Raigarh in Maharashtra which will involve investments from Saudi oil giant Aramco, UAE's Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Indian public sector oil firms.

India, the world's third-largest oil consumer, imports 83 per cent of its oil needs. Saudi Arabia is its second-biggest supplier after Iraq.

It sold 40.33 million tonnes of crude oil to India in 2018-19 fiscal, when the country had imported 207.3 million tonnes of oil.

India, the 6th largest economy in the world and the 3rd largest energy consumer after the US and China, buys some 200,000 tonnes of LPG every month from Saudi Arabia.

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