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Top Saudi ministers call on PM Modi; discuss ways to deepen ties

twitter-logoPTI | October 29, 2019 | Updated 16:22 IST

By Zishan Haider (Eds: Updates with fresh inputs) Riyadh, Oct 29 (PTI) Saudi Arabia's top ministers called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Tuesday and discussed ways to further deepen bilateral ties in areas of energy, labour, agriculture and water technologies. 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. 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 Maharastra 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. "Furthering synergies for a sustainable future. PM Narendra Modi had an extensive meeting with @AlfadleyA, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture," the Prime Minister's Office tweeted. Ministry of External Affairs Spokesman Raveesh Kumar said that Prime Minister Modi had "useful discussion" with Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture towards exploring newer areas of cooperation in the agriculture, food processing and water technologies. Prime Minister Modi also met Minister of Labour and Social Development Ahmad bin Sulaiman Alrajhi and discussed issues related to labour. The 2.6 million strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom. Prime Minister Modi arrived in Riyadh late 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. India''s relations with Saudi Arabia have been on an upswing over the last few years. India's bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was at USD 27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner. Saudi Arabia last month said that it was looking at investing USD 100 billion in India in areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining. PTI ZH MRJ AKJ MRJ

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