Saudi Arabia and India to boost energy ties

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    Saudi Arabia and India to boost energy ties
    Saudi Arabia and India to boost energy ties - Arab News

    Published: Jan 5, 2012 23:54 Updated: Jan 5, 2012 23:54

    RIYADH: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah in New Delhi and invited greater cooperation from Saudi Arabia in all fields, describing the Kingdom as a "valued partner."

    The talks were significant keeping in view India's strategic relations with the Arab world, its desire to boost commercial links further and its massive infrastructure development plans, which require about $1 trillion over five years.

    "In his talks, Singh made the strong pitch for closer cooperation with the Kingdom, which is a strategic partner of India with very substantial commercial ties," said an Indian diplomat via phone from New Delhi.

    He disclosed that the Indian premier held talks on a wide spectrum of bilateral and regional issues.

    The talks were attended by top Saudi and Indian officials including Saudi Ambassador to India Saud Al-Sati, India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, and Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao.

    "Al-Rabiah also had a bilateral meeting with Indian Foreign Minister," said the diplomat, adding that the commerce minister held talks with Indian Oil Minister Jaipal Reddy and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who also co-chaired the joint commission meeting.

    Speaking at the Saudi-Indian Joint Economic Commission meeting earlier on Thursday, Al-Rabiah said "the Kingdom looks forward to enhance links in all sectors."

    "The talks between Saudi and Indian officials within the framework of the joint commission focused mainly on joint plans, projects and creation of more joint ventures," said a Saudi official, adding that the Saudi delegation will return on Friday.

    He said that Al-Rabiah’s talks with Reddy mainly "focused on ways and means to bolster ties in energy sector."

    It is important to note that Mukherjee in his remarks in the joint commission meeting expressed keen interest in participating in the petroleum and gas sectors in Saudi Arabia.

    In return, India invited Saudi Arabia to invest in the Indian petroleum and gas-based mega industrial estates, fertilizers, petrochemical plants and refineries.

    Mukherjee also said the proposed $750 million joint fund to be set up in cooperation with Saudi Arabia should focus on development of infrastructure and promote joint exploration and production of hydrocarbons.

    “The proposed India-Saudi Arabia investment fund of $750 million to be jointly set up needs to be given high priority as it is mutually beneficial,” Finance Minister Mukherjee said.

    He added Saudi-Indo economic ties were an important component of the strategic partnership.

    "Our bilateral trade exceeded $25 billion last year," said the Indian finance minister, adding that there is great scope to expand the bilateral trade basket to include non-oil products.

    "Equally important, we need to move into areas of investment and joint ventures," he added.

    "The rapidly expanding Indian economy has a growing requirement of crude oil to sustain its development momentum," said the Indian minister, whose speech was made available by Indian Embassy in Riyadh today.

    "We hope that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be able to assist India in meeting its energy security needs in the years to come," said Mukherjee.

    He pointed out that India has vast experience in the hydrocarbons sector, not only domsestically but also in other oil rich countries.

    "We have specialists both in the upstream and in the downstream areas including in training, capacity building and research & development," said Mukherjee.

    India has national plans to build refineries and petrochemical projects, he said.

    The joint working group on hydrocarbons could explore mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation initiatives in this area, he suggested.

    On the other hand, he said India has made significant progress in the areas of science and technology, IT and telecoms.

    This is in addition to the development of affordable technologies in a range of employment generating small and medium enterprises.

    "We would be happy to share our experience with Saudi Arabia in all these areas," said Mukherjee, calling on the Kingdom to sign an agreement in the manpower sector.

    He said the two countries should facilitate regular interactions between the various joint committees and working groups within the framework of the Saudi Arabia-India Joint Economic Commission.

    This will help in boosting ties in science & technology, higher education, information technology, health and more. Chairpersons of the sub-committees must work in tandem with a view to bring the planned programs of cooperation to fruition expeditiously, it was agreed after the meeting on Thursday.

    It was also suggested that the co-chairs of the three sub committees should submit joint reports once every six months to the co-chairs of the commission on the progress achieved.

    © 2010 Arab News
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