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Jaishankar holds ‘warm and productive’ talks with Saudi counterpart in Riyadh

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"Our collaboration holds promise of shared growth, prosperity, stability, security and development”

Riyadh: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday held “warm and productive” talks with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan during which they discussed current global political as well as economic issues and agreed to work closely together in G-20 and multilateral organisations.

Jaishankar arrived here on Saturday on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss ways to further strengthen relations between the two countries. It is his first visit to Saudi Arabia as External Affairs Minister.

On Sunday, Jaishankar co-chaired with his Saudi counterpart the first ministerial meeting of the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation (PSSC), established under the framework of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council.

“Warm and productive meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister HH Prince  @FaisalbinFarhan this afternoon. Co-chaired the Political, Security, Social and Cultural Committee of the India-Saudi Partnership Council,” Jaishankar tweeted in both English and Arabic.

The minister said that they discussed current global political and economic concerns. “Agreed to work closely together in G20 and multilateral organizations,” he added.

India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations reflecting the centuries-old economic and socio-cultural ties. Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trading partner.

Earlier in the morning, Jaishankar addressed diplomats at the Prince Saud Al Faisal Institute of Diplomatic Studies in Riyadh.

During his address, the minister underlined the importance of the strategic relationship between the two countries and said that the collaboration between them holds the promise of shared growth, prosperity, stability, security and development.

“Addressed diplomats at the Prince Saud Al Faisal Institute of Diplomatic Studies in Riyadh this morning. Underlined the importance of India-Saudi Strategic Relationship at a time when the world is at crossroads,” he said in a tweet.

“Our collaboration holds promise of shared growth, prosperity, stability, security and development,” he added in another tweet.

More than 18 per cent of India’s crude oil imports are sourced from Saudi Arabia. During FY22 (April -December), bilateral trade was valued at USD 29.28 billion. During this period, India’s imports from Saudi Arabia were valued at USD 22.65 billion and exports to Saudi Arabia were worth USD 6.63 billion.

Jaishankar started his visit to Saudi Arabia with interaction with the Indian community on Saturday. He appreciated the contribution of Indian diaspora in facing national challenges.

“Spoke to them about our country’s resilience, especially during the time of the Covid and national transformation that is underway in India,” Jaishankar tweeted.

The approximately 2.2-million-strong Indian community is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom, according to the Indian embassy in Riyadh.

Jaishankar said India has made powerful efforts to grow its economy and emerge as a higher-income country as he expressed hope that it will be the fastest growing major economy in the world this year with at least 7 per cent growth despite the challenges posed by the Ukraine crisis.

Addressing the Indian community here, Jaishankar said: “India thinks about the ways in which it can change its credit, banking, education and labour policy.”

He said that India has made powerful efforts to grow its economy and move towards becoming a higher-income country.

He pointed out that the world is facing many challenges, like rising food, oil and shipping prices due to the Ukraine crisis.

“But we are still very confident that India will be the fastest growing major economy in the world this year. We will get at least 7 per cent growth,” he said.

Jaishankar also lauded the growing ties between India and Saudi Arabia. He said during the Covid crisis, “We saw our international friendships also deliver at that point of time.”

“Saudi Arabia was very helpful and provided supplies of oxygen. Two years of Covid are when the country was tested but we came through,” said Jaishankar.

Speaking about the key role the Indian diaspora plays in the ties between the two countries, Jaishankar said, “In many ways, all of you shaped the image of India and what Saudis think about India and what we are about.”

“Consciously or unconsciously, all of you through your achievements, contributions, profession, and friendships have collectively built up what is the total Saudi perception of India. For that, your country will be always grateful,” he said.

“One of our foreign policy priorities is to ensure that our people get good treatment abroad,” he said.

On the first day of his visit on Saturday, Jaishankar also met the GCC Secretary-General and exchanged views on current regional and global issues.

“Productive meeting with @GCC Secretary-General Dr Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf. Signed the MoU on the mechanism of consultations between India and GCC. Exchanged views on the current regional and global situation and the relevance of India-GCC cooperation in that context,” Jaishankar tweeted.

The GCC is a regional, intergovernmental, political, and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

India enjoys traditionally cordial relations and cooperation with the GCC.

Earlier this year, there was an unease in India’s ties with some Muslim-majority countries, including Gulf nations, over the controversial remarks of two former BJP leaders on the Prophet Mohammad. All six GCC nations had condemned the remarks.

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