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G20: New Delhi says train from UAE to India via Saudi on track as ME corridor agreed

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Indian President Droupadi Murmu (3R) looks on as India´s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (3L) and his Saudi Arabian counterpart and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (2R) shake hands during a ceremonial reception at the President House a day after the G20 summit in New Delhi on September 11, 2023.—AFP 
  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited India on Monday.
  • Project seen as a rival to China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Port agreement would connect Middle East to South Asia.

The new ports and railway corridor for the Middle East and South Asia — announced on the sidelines of the G20 meetup in Delhi — will include train links to India, an Indian foreign ministry official said on Monday. 

The international rail and port agreement would connect the Middle East to South Asia with the United States, Saudi Arabia, India, the European Union, and the United Arab Emirates as partners.

The project is seen as a rival to China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative.

During Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s state visit to New Delhi on Monday, the two nations also discussed the potential for trading in local currencies and accelerating the negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which Saudi Arabia is a member.

According to Ausaf Sayeed, a secretary in the foreign ministry, the two nations signed eight agreements on Monday, including a deal to transform their hydrocarbon energy collaboration into a comprehensive energy partnership for renewable, petroleum, and other sources of energy.

India receives a significant amount of petroleum exports from Saudi Arabia.

India and KSA also decided to establish a combined task force for a $100 billion Saudi investment, of which half is designated for a postponed refinery project along India’s western coast, Ausaaf added.

Sayeed stated that improved roads, ports, railroads, power, gas, and optical fibre networks will all be a part of the connection between India and the Gulf nations.

The Indian president and the Saudi crown prince discussed cooperation in space, semiconductors, and joint production of weapons during their earlier-in-the-day meetings.

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