An Indian foreign ministry official on Monday revealed that a fresh infrastructure project spanning ports and railways in the Middle East and South Asia would feature train connections to India. This announcement provided further insights into the plan introduced during the G20 summit in Delhi over the weekend.
Ausaf Sayeed, a secretary in the Foreign Ministry, clarified that the corridor would encompass train links to India, rather than just port connections. In response to a query at a media briefing, he stated, “India would be linked by railroads, rather than India constructing the railroads.”
The multinational rail and ports deal, which includes as members the United States, Saudi Arabia, India, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates, is being viewed as a response to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
At an event in New Delhi later in the Day, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al Falih said that the corridor would be “the equivalent of the Silk Route and Spice Road,” adding that it will provide “greater energy connectivity, green materials and processed and finished goods that will rebalance the global trade.”
During Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s state visit to New Delhi on Monday, discussions took place regarding the potential for trading in local currencies and expediting negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which Saudi Arabia is a member.
Sayeed disclosed that the two nations signed eight agreements on Monday. These included a pact to elevate their hydrocarbon energy partnership to a comprehensive energy partnership encompassing renewables, petroleum, and strategic reserves. Saudi Arabia is one of the major petroleum exporters to India.
Furthermore, they agreed to establish a joint task force to manage $100 billion in Saudi investments, with half of the funds allocated to a postponed refinery project along India’s western coast.
Sayeed also mentioned that the new corridor would encompass not only ports and railways but also improved road infrastructure, power and gas grids, and an optical fiber network.
During their earlier discussions on that day, Indian leadership and the Saudi crown prince explored opportunities for cooperation in space, semiconductor technology, and collaboration in defense manufacturing.