India, US, UAE, Saudi, Europe to launch unprecedented infra project: US official | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India, US, UAE, Saudi, Europe to launch unprecedented infra project: US official

Sep 09, 2023 10:20 AM IST

While the project has not been implemented under the I2U2 framework (which includes India, Israel, UAE, and US), most likely because the efforts at normalisation between Israel and Saudi is still work in progress, officials believe that Israel will be an obvious partner

India, the US, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Europe are set to unveil an unprecedented and groundbreaking infrastructure initiative of a railway and shipping corridor that will enhance commerce, energy and digital connectivity on Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 summit, US principal deputy national security advisor Jon Finer has said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (File Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (File Photo)

Speaking to reporters on Saturday morning, Finer said that the project will fill a major infrastructure gap and will be “high-standards, transparent, sustainable, non-coercive” and based on the demand signal from the region instead of being an imposition, drawing an indirect but sharp contrast with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

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BRI is widely criticised for locking countries into unsustainable debts, being non-transparent, coercive, and compromising standards.

Finer said that the initiative fits in with the Joe Biden administration’s larger strategy in West Asia.

Laying out the strategic case for the project, he said that there was first a “value proposition” of a corridor linking three regions of the world as it would enhance prosperity.

Second, it filled a broader infrastructure gap in low and middle-income countries, with the US doing what it can with partners and allies to fill the gap. Third, he said that for the Middle East, “which has been a net exporter of turbulence and insecurity,” the project was a major opportunity in line with the American efforts to “reduce the temperature and enhance connectivity”.

While the project has not been implemented under the I2U2 framework (which includes India, Israel, UAE, and US), most likely because the efforts at normalisation between Israel and Saudi are still a work in progress, officials believe that Israel will be an obvious partner in the project if and when there are formal diplomatic ties between Tel Aviv and Riyadh. On a question on Israel’s participation, Finer said he will let countries speak for themselves.

“We have an approach focused on turning the temperature down, de-escalating conflicts underway in the region, and incentivising stability and connectivity in the region. The railway and shipping project is wholly in line with that,” Finer said.

Asked about the contrast with BRI, Finer claimed that while he understood the appeal of that narrative, the US saw the infra project as a “positive affirmative agenda” that had appeal in countries.

“This is not zero-sum, we are not asking countries to make zero-sum choices, it is a high-value proposition,” he said. But, he added that other efforts were not as “ambitious, high standard, and transparent” and were “more coercive” in nature. “We feel good about the contrast,” added Finer.

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