Monday, March 15, 2010

Indo-Saudi bilateral relations
India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations reflecting
the centuries old economic and socio-cultural ties. The establishment of
diplomatic relations in 1947 was followed by high-level visits from both sides:
the visit of King Saud to India in 1955; and the visit of Prime Minister
Jawaharlal Nehru to the Kingdom in 1956. The visit of Prime Minister Indira
Gandhi to Saudi Arabia in 1982 further boosted the bilateral relations. The
following period witnessed steady growth in bilateral relations with several
ministerial visits from both sides, including the visit of Finance Minister Dr.
Manmohan Singh in December 1994 for the Indo-Saudi Joint Commission
Meeting and the visit of External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh to Saudi
Arabia in January 2001.
The landmark visit of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to India in January 2006
as the Chief Guest of Republic Day celebrations opened a new chapter in the
Indo-Saudi bilateral relations. King Abdullah referred to India as his ‘second
home’ and signed the ‘Delhi Declaration’, first such bilateral document ever
signed by a Saudi King. 
The ‘Delhi Declaration’ provides a comprehensive
road map for the bilateral relations. Several Agreements/MOUs were signed
during the visit including MOU on Combating Crime, Bilateral Investment
Protection Agreement and the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.

King Abdullah’s visit was followed by a period of active engagement
between the two leaderships. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal
visited India in February 2006 to follow up on King’s visit. FM Prince Saud
visited India twice thereafter, in February 2008 and December 2008, and
interacted with Indian leaders. The other ministerial visits from Saudi side
included that of Justice Minister, Minister for Higher Education, Minister of
Health, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Petroleum Minister.
Intelligence Chief Prince Muqrin paid two-day visit to India on January 15-16,
2009 and held discussions with then NSA M. K. Narayanan. Saudi Commerce
Minister Abdullah Zainal Alireza visited India in August 2009 and met PM Dr.
Manmohan Singh in New Delhi to deliver a personal message from King
Abdullah. Alireza also held meetings with EAM S.M. Krishna, Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Commerce and Industry Minister Anand
From the Indian side, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee
visited Kingdom in April 2008 and held discussions with King Abdullah and
FM Prince Saud Al Faisal. The other visits from Indian side included the visits
of Speaker of Lok Sabha, Minister of Human Resources Development,
Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas,
Minister of State for External Affairs, National Security Adviser. MOS for
External Affairs E. Ahamed held discussions with Saudi MOS for Foreign
Affairs Nizar bin Obaid Madani in Riyadh on April 20, 2009. MOS for
Railways E. Ahamed visited the Kingdom to attend the inaugural ceremony of
King Abdullah University for Science & Technology held in Thuwal (Jeddah)
on September 23, 2009. MOS for Tourism Mr Sultan Ahmed led a three member
official delegation to Riyadh to attend the “India Tourism Road Show”
held in Riyadh on October 6, 2009 by India Tourism Office, Dubai. Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjee, leading a ten-member official delegation, visited
the Kingdom to co-chair the 8th Joint Commission Meeting held in Riyadh on
October 31, 2009. During the visit, Finance Minister called on King Abdullah
and held meetings with his counterpart Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf,
FM Prince Saud Al Faisal and Commerce & Industry Minister Abdullah Zainal
The momentum generated by extensive bilateral interactions after King
Abdullah’s visit culminated in the historic visit of Prime Minister Dr.
Manmohan Singh to Saudi Arabia from February 27- March 1, 2010. Prime
Minister held discussions with King Abdullah and both leaders signed the
“Riyadh Declaration” which outlines a “new era of strategic partnership”
between the two countries in security, defence, political and economic areas.
King Abdullah felicitated Dr. Manmohan Singh with the King Abdualziz Sash
of the First Order.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, Commerce
Minister Zainal Alireza and Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al
Naimi called on Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Prime Minister
addressed the Majlis Al Shura and Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry during the visit.

Several agreements were signed during the visit
including the Extradition Treaty, Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons
and agreements for cooperation in Science & Technology and cultural
Cooperation. The King Saud University conferred Honorary Doctorate on PM.
Indo-Saudi economic relations have shown remarkable growth with
bilateral trade registering three-fold increase in the last five years. India is the
4th largest trade partner of Saudi Arabia and the bilateral trade was $ 25.03
billion in 2008-09. The import of crude oil by India forms a major component
of bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia being India’s largest supplier of crude oil,
accounting for almost one-fifth of its needs. Energy cooperation is an
important aspect of bilateral economic ties and both sides are working
towards the strategic energy partnership including long term supply of
uninterrupted supply of crude oil by Saudi Arabia to India to meet its growing
energy needs; cooperation and joint ventures in upstream and downstream oil
and gas sectors in India and Saudi Arabia and to set up India-Saudi ventures
for gas-based fertilizer plants
The 1.80 million-strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the
largest expatriate community in the Kingdom and is the ‘most preferred
community’ due to their expertise, sense of discipline and their moderate and
law abiding nature. Saudi leadership has appreciated the contribution made
by Indian community to the development of Saudi Arabia. The Haj pilgrimage
is another important component of bilateral relations with 1, 65, 000 Indians
performing Haj every year, second largest contingent performing Haj.
March 2010
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Blog Archive