In another push for India’s Middle East Policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Saudi Arabia as a part of his three nation visit commencing on March 30. Mr Modi will first attend the India-EU summit in Brussels on March 30, followed by a visit to the US to attend Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on March 31. He will then head to Saudi Arabia for a bilateral visit on April 2, where trade and energy is expected to be the area of focus during the visit. There is also speculation that Mr Modi may meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the NSS.
Mr Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes six years after his predecessor Manmohan Singh had visited the country in 2010. Saudi Arabia is India’s largest supplier of crude oil. The Arab country also has the largest Indian diaspora comprising more than 2.5 million. The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $48 billion as of 2013-14. The oil-rich nation is the 48th largest investor in India with an investment of around $42 million in 2013-14.
In the backdrop of rising terror attacks in the region, Saudi Arabia and India have been working towards enhancing cooperation in counter-terrorism. It is expected to be a major area of focus during the visit and the growing tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia may also figure in the bilateral talks between the two countries.
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