Saudi Arabia's ties with India, which relies heavily on the kingdom's oil, is set to become even stronger after a new Strategic Partnership Council was established yesterday during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Riyadh for the flagship investor meeting known as "Davos in the desert".
Riyadh's top brass are reported to have held extensive talks with Modi during which officials inked more than a dozen agreements in several key sectors, including oil and gas. Indian sources reported that a massive $100 billion was being invested by New Delhi in oil and gas infrastructure.
With Saudi Arabia being the second largest source of India's oil needs, the two countries have been moving closer with new trade deals that have seen Riyadh investing downstream in refineries in India. The new Strategic Partnership Council, however, is reported to include issues related to security, a development that is likely to alarm Riyadh's ally Pakistan. Tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi is the highest it's been in recent years as a result of India's annexation of Kashmir.
Details of the partnership between Modi and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman are said to include bilateral security cooperation. The council will be headed by Modi and the crown prince who will meet every two years to discuss items related to trade, terrorism and security.
Despite his policies in Kashmir and the targeting of Muslim minorities in India by Hindus subscribing to the same nationalism of Modi, Gulf leaders have been somewhat smitten by the Indian prime minister. During his previous visit to the region the UAE conferred its highest civilian award on him despite concerns over his crackdown in Kashmir. Prior to that, the Saudi crown prince visited India in February 2019, giving a further signal to their strengthening ties.