NEW DELHI: The first state visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to India on February 19-20 comes with a promise of new investment. Yet despite the buoyancy in bilateral ties, India remains “hyphenated” with Pakistan.
Announcing the visit, MEA spokesperson said the crown prince will be accompanied by a “large business and senior ministerial delegation.” The crown prince is expected to hold discussions with PM Narendra Modi and will also call on President Ram Nath Kovind.
After Iran was slapped with US sanctions in 2011 and in 2018, Saudi Arabia has increased its supply of crude to India, supplying 20% of India’s crude oil demand.
In context of deepening ties, an MEA spokesperson referred to Saudi ARAMCO partnering ADNOC of UAE for the $44-billion Ratnagiri Refinery and Petro-Chemical project Ltd joing venture. However, growing local opposition has led the Maharashtra government to stall land acquisition for the project, and the project is unlikely to pick up pace until after the general elections.
Salman, who has been the subject of international opprobrium for allegedly ordering a hit on journalist Jamal Khashhoggi, will be making his first trip to Pakistan next week before visiting India.