Security and trade top agenda as Saudi Arabia welcomes Indian PM

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Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on Saturday arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for a two-day visit for signing economic and security deals, during which he will stay at the royal family’s guest palace.

Combating threat of terrorism and radicalization are expected to figure high on the agenda of the talks between Modi and the leadership of Saudi Arabia.

India’s ties with Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s leading oil producers, have been on an upswing over the last two decades based on burgeoning energy ties and both countries may look to move beyond buyer-seller relationship in the sector and go for joint ventures and investment in refineries and oil fields.

In this context, Modi may seek deeper involvement of Indian companies in upstream and downstream oil and gas sector projects in the Gulf nation whose economy has been hit due to falling crude prices, cut in oil exports and slowing down of domestic consumption.

All eyes will be on his meetings with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s son, Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who many diplomats and Saudis feel could be the future King.

The Prime Minister will hold extensive talks with King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on range of bilateral issues following which both sides will sign a number of MoUs.

Modi paid tribute to the House of Saud by visiting the Masmak fortress, where King Abdulaziz, through surprise attacks, had taken control of the country in 1902 and established his family’s ongoing rule.

After the visit to the fortress, Modi met a group of Indian community members and then drove down to a colony for blue-collar Indian workers, engaged in a Larsen & Toubro project to help build Riyadh’s metro rail system.

The Prime Minister arrived here from Washinton on the final leg of his three-nation tour that began on March 30 with a visit to Brussels.

Modi had visited the United Arab Emirates, in August and both sides, in a joint statement, had called on all states to abandon use of terror against other countries which was seen as a message to Islamabad.

He is the fourth Indian Prime Minister to visit Saudi Arabia after Manmohan Singh in 2010, Indira Gandhi in 1982 and Jawaharlal Nehru in 1956.

– NRICafe.com (with inputs from Agencies)

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