During his visit, the Crown Prince is expected to focus on boosting trade links between the two states, as well as sign a new defense agreement.
After landing at Indira Ghandi International Airport, Prince Salman, who also serves as Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, said that his visit was part of an effort by King Abdullah to “consolidate cooperation between the two countries in all fields and enhance consultation and coordination between them on regional and international issues of common concern.”
Prince Salman is scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday.
During the visit, the two states will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on defense training and cooperation, according to press reports, which will also open the door to exploring defense industrial cooperation.
Saudi–Indian ties will be boosted by the visit, the official in charge of relations with Middle East and North African trade at the Confederation of Indian Industry said, amid a sharp growth in trade between the two countries.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ghorbal Singh praised recent developments in Saudi–Indian relations in the economic field, and said joint trade had trebled in the last five years, making Saudi Arabia India’s fourth-biggest trade partner with approximately 43.78 billion US dollars’ worth of bilateral trade in 2012-13.
Singh said: “The [prince’s] visit is an opportunity discover and diversify joint trade which today relies largely on oil and gas,” adding “the rapid growth in the private sector in Saudi Arabia has provided many great opportunities for immigrant workers, which is what we look to achieve from the visit.”
Wael Abu Mansosur contributed reporting from New Delhi