Investment opportunities in India are worth more than $100 billion: Saudi Arabia Crown Prince

New Delhi: Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday, where he talked about historical linkages between the two countries and stressed on expanding the ties further. He also said that he believes that the investment opportunities in India are worth more than $100 billion.

Saudi Arabia will “cooperate with India and neighbouring states” on the matter, said the Crown Prince at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The bilateral talks between India and Saudi Arabia were held in the shadow of escalating tension with Pakistan over Pulwama terror attack, in which at least 40 soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad.

“The relationship between India and Saudi Arabia is in our DNA. Today, we want to be ensured that the relationship is maintained and improved for sake of both the countries and with the leadership of Mr President and the Prime Minister, we can create good things for both the countries,” he told reporters.

“The common concern is terrorism and extremism. We will cooperate with India and neighboring states to ensure future generations are safe. We applaud India’s role in this matter,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said. Saudi Arabia will help India on this front through intelligence sharing.

“We have agreed that terrorism should not be supported in any form, and we should put pressure on countries that back terror. To end terror infrastructure, ending support to terror groups and punishing them is essential, so that young people don’t take up arms … I’m glad Saudi Arabia agrees with India on this,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who broke protocol to personally welcome the Saudi Prince.

PM Modi said discussions were also held on various aspects of the strategic relationship and trade ties, “It is time to convert energy partnership into strategic partnership,  this is no longer just a buyer seller relationship. I welcome Saudi investment in infrastructure.”

While on one hand India is trying to diplomatically isolate Pakistan over the Pulwama terror attack, the Saudi Crown Prince had announced investments worth $20 billion during his two-day visit to Islamabad on Monday. He then returned to Riyadh for a few hours before flying to New Delhi.

Saudi Arabia has vowed to “de-escalate” rising tensions between Pakistan and India during the high-profile summit in Islamabad. A joint statement said during the talks, that the Crown Prince and the Deputy Prime Minister both stressed that “dialogue is the only way to ensure peace and stability in the region to resolve outstanding issues”.

The statement also said, “They also underlined the need for avoiding politicisation of UN listing regime,” with reference to India’s effort to include Jaish chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist under UN rules.

Talking about investment opportunities in India he said, “We believe that the (investment) opportunities in India are worth more than $100 billion. Together we want to make these investments beneficial for both India and Saudi Arabia.”

“We want to diversify in other areas such as petrochemicals and storage. We want to make the relations between India and Saudi Arabia beneficial for both countries,” added MBS.

“These investments will help benefit the Indians in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi people who are working in India,” he said, adding “We know India is strong in the IT sector and we have invested a lot in Saudi Arabia in the IT sector and have benefitted from it.”

The Saudi prince’s visit comes nearly three years after PM Modi’s visit to Riyadh in 2016. The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is expected to leave for China from India. This tour of South Asia comes five months after a huge diplomatic crisis following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.