PM Narendra Modi to attend Saudi’s ‘Davos in desert’: All you need to know | India Business News

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend the third edition of Saudi Arabia’s high-profile annual financial conference on Tuesday. He will also hold bilateral talks with top leadership of the Gulf Kingdom. The Prime Minister is on a two-day visit to Saudi and arrived in Riyadh late on Monday night.

He will deliver the keynote address under the title ‘What’s next for India?’ at the Future Investment Initiative (FII), which is dubbed as ‘Davos in the Desert’.

Besides addressing the forum he will hold bilateral talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two sides are expected to sign a number of agreements in several key sectors including oil and gas, renewable energy and civil aviation to bolster their ties.

Here’s all you need to know about the Prime Minister’s visit:

* This would be PM Modi‘s second visit to the Gulf Kingdom. During his first visit in 2016, King Salman conferred Saudi’s highest civilian award on him. The Crown Prince visited India in February 2019, giving a further fillip to the bilateral ties.

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PM’s flight took longer route: Air India One was forced to take a longer route to the Kingdom after Pakistan denied the use of its airspace for the PM’s plane. India has complained about the denial of overfly rights to International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency responsible for managing international air navigation.

In response to India’s letter, ICAO on Monday evening said: “The Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), which ICAO helps governments to cooperate under, only applies to the operations of civilian aircraft and not to state or military aircraft. Flights carrying national leaders are considered state aircraft, and are therefore not subject to ICAO provisions.”

However, given how serious India is taking the issue, ICAO hours later both “acknowledged” India’s letter and sought information from Pakistan.

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Kashmir topic: The visit comes in the backdrop of Pakistan’s shrill rhetoric on Kashmir and threats of a nuclear war. Saudi Arabia, unlike Turkey or Malaysia, has refused to take sides after the abrogation of Article 370. Earlier this month, Pakistan PM Imran Khan had also visited Riyadh and discussed the Kashmir issue.

* ‘Davos in the Desert’: The three-day annual financial forum, beginning on Tuesday, will host financiers, governments, and industry leaders who would discuss global trade and explore the trends, opportunities and challenges shaping the global investment landscape over the coming decades.

* India-Saudi relations: “India and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed traditionally close and friendly relations. Saudi Arabia has been one of the largest and reliable suppliers of India’s energy needs,” PM Modi said.

* The two sides would also sign an agreement to establish a Strategic Partnership Council to coordinate on key issues. The council will be headed by PM Modi and the crown prince and it will meet every two years. The two countries would also seek to finalise major deals in the energy sector, including the $44 billion West Coast Refinery Project (in Maharashtra) and for India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) programme.

* India’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was at $27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner. Saudi Arabia last month said that it was looking at investing $100 billion in India in areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining.

* Why Saudi wants the summit to be a hit: The kingdom and the crown prince need the summit to be a success not just for the investments but also to turn the page on killing of critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi that triggered a mass boycott last year.

* A strong turnout at the three-day Future Investment Initiative would be a boost to the crown prince’s image. PM Modi and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro are guests of honour who will address the conference. Saudi Arabia recently climbed 30 places to 62nd in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, just ahead of India.

* US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin leads a high-powered American delegation that includes energy secretary Rick Perry and Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior advisor to President Donald Trump.

(With agency inputs)

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