Oil, economic ties discussed at bilateral meets
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Friday agreed that the Iran-US tensions in the Persian Gulf could affect energy supplies and the pricing of oil.
During a meeting on the margins of the G20 Summit in the Japanese city of Osaka, Modi told the crown prince that both these issues were important for India.
He appreciated the efforts by Saudi Arabia to ensure that oil supplies have remained stable and prices have been predictable in the past few months.
Briefing the media after the meeting, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale quoted Modi as saying that Saudi Arabia’s leadership role in maintaining “balance in the global oil market is important for the region and the world”.
India has cut off oil imports from Iran, which accounted for 11% of its total needs, after the US ended a waiver for sanctions that were imposed last year after the Trump administration pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal.
The crown prince had visited India in February, when the two sides had set up a Strategic Partnership Council to boost relations in areas such as security, energy and investments. The two leaders discussed the council and Modi welcomed the Saudi initiative of investing up to $100 billion in India, Gokhale said.
Modi and the crown prince were happy with the 20% growth in bilateral trade last year. Gokhale also noted that Saudi Arabia had implemented a move announced during the crown prince’s visit to India to increase the Haj quota from 170,000 to 200,000 a year.
The prime minister accepted the crown prince invitation to be one of the main guests at an international conference later this year.
Modi also met South Korean President Moon Jae-in for discussions that focussed on bilateral relations and a review of the comprehensive economic partnership agreement.
Modi said access in services is important for India during this review and the two sides need an agreement that reflects investment, technology and services and not just trade in goods.
The two leaders also discussed ways to improve the visa regime, including longer term stay permits for Korean nationals working or investing in India.
Moon also suggested South Korea’s new “Southern Policy”, which encourages diversification of trade and investment and has India as one of the main focus points, should be synergised with the Act East policy.
Modi also met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed cooperation in artificial intelligence, cyber security and railway modernisation.
He also had pull-aside meetings Vietnam Prime Mini- ster Nguyen Xuan Phuc and World Bank President David Malpass.