Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday attributed India’s growth to its political stability as he began a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia aimed at enhancing trade and firming up security cooperation to counter terrorism.
Modi was welcomed by the governor of Riyadh when he flew into Saudi Arabia after attending the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by US President Barack Obama in Washington. This is the first visit to the kingdom by an Indian prime minister in six years.
The first major event on Modi’s itinerary was an address to members of the nearly 3 million-strong Indian community at a hotel, a shift from the huge events associated with his visits to countries with a large Indian diaspora.
“Reason for India’s growth is the political stability in India,” Modi said, according to a series of tweets on his official Twitter account.
“World’s attention is towards India due to the economic progress in India. India can contribute a lot to the world,” he said. “In a very short span of time India has once again given rise to new expectations at the world stage.”
Modi also interacted with workers and managers of Larsen & Toubro, which is constructing the Riyadh Metro, at their residential complex. He said he shared the joys and pain of the workers, adding the government has helped all Indians facing difficulties in any part of the world.
The Prime Minister earlier visited Masmak Palace, a clay and mud brick complex built around 1865. The building is closely linked to the Al Saud royal
Family, which has ruled the kingdom for more than a century.
On the second day of the day of the visit, King Salman will host a ceremonial reception, including a lunch, in Modi’s honour. The event will be attended by key Saudi ministers.
This will be followed by meetings and talks with senior Saudi officials and members of the royal family, including Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, who is the deputy premier and interior minister, and Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, the second deputy premier and defence minister.
Modi and King Salman are expected to discuss a range of bilateral, regional and global issues, including terrorism, security cooperation and commercial ties, officials said.
Their talks will also focus on the situation in Syria, Iran, Yemen and Libya and help frame a joint strategy to fight terrorism, officials added.
Two days before Modi’s visit, Saudi Arabia and the US announced joint sanctions on four individuals and two organisations for backing and funding the Lashkar-e-Taiba, al Qaeda and Taliban. Among those sanctioned was Saudi-based Muhammad Ijaz Safarash, accused of providing financial or technological support to LeT.
Modi will also tour Tata Consultancy Services’ all women IT centre and meet top Saudi and Indian business leaders at the Council of Saudi Chambers.
Several agreements are expected to be signed on Sunday, including a framework for investment promotion between the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and the National Investment Promotion Agency of India.
Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trading partner with two-way trade at more than $40 billion. It is also India’s largest supplier of crude oil, accounting for almost one-fifth of New Delhi’s imports.
Nearly 3 million Indians living in Saudi Arabia, the largest expatriate community, send more than $10 billion in remittances every year.
Late King Abdullah visited India in 2006, when the two sides signed the Delhi Declaration.
During former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in 2010, the two sides signed 10 agreements, including the Riyadh Declaration which established a strategic partnership for deeper engagement in politics, economics and defence.