MBS Meets Modi In Argentina, Plans To Ramp Up Investments

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BUENOS AIRES — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and told him about plans to scale up investments in India’s tech, farm and energy sectors, an Indian official and the Saudi news agency (SPA) said on Friday.

The two leaders, who are in Ar­gentina for the G20 summit, met in the prince’s residence in Buenos Aires and discussed Saudi Arabia’s readiness to supply India with oil and petroleum products. The G20 summit in Buenos Aires is the first major in­ternational event the Saudi prince has attended since the murder of jour­nalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

The Saudi prince told Modi he would soon be finalising an initial investment in India’s National In­vestment and Infrastructure Fund, a quasi-sovereign wealth fund, to help accelerate the building of ports, highways and other projects, a top Indian diplomat said.

“The crown prince also referred to future projects for investments, in sec­tors such as tech, energy and farm,” In­dian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, who is accompanying Modi to the G20, said in a readout of the meeting. Ways in which Saudi Arabia could replace its agricultural imports from other countries with Indian agricultural produce were also discussed, the Saudi news agency said.

Since he took office in 2014 at the head of a Hindu-nationalist government, Modi has sought to expand ties with Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations to deny arch foe Pakistan an advantage and to leverage India’s fast-growing econ­omy as an attractive investment.

STABLE OIL

The meeting with the Saudi crown prince was Modi’s first in a set of ‘bilaterals’ on the sidelines of the G20 that will be followed by meetings with US President Don­ald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“We expect that in the next two to three years there will be sig­nificant scaling up of Saudi invest­ments in India,” Gokhale said. The two leaders also talked about coop­eration in arms manufacturing and Saudi Arabia’s efforts to develop a domestic arms industry, SPA said.

Modi stressed the importance of stable energy prices and the two leaders discussed ways in which Saudi Arabia, a top crude oil sup­plier, could help stabilise prices, particularly for India, Gokhale said.

India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer, has been grappling with a combination of soaring pric­es and a falling currency, which makes imports of dollar-denomi­nated oil more expensive, until a recent fall in oil prices. Saudi Ara­bia has told India it is committed to meeting its rising oil demand and is the “shock absorber” for supply disruptions in the oil market.


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