Sushma Swaraj leaves for first official visit to Saudi Arabia

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has left for Saudi Arabia on a three-day visit starting today. This will be her first visit to the Middle East nation and is aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.

“During the visit, she will meet with the Saudi leadership to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest,” stated a press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.  

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Photo courtesy: MEA

“She will also participate at the inauguration of the prestigious National Heritage and Culture Festival ‘Janadriyah’ being held in Saudi Arabia, at which India is the guest of honour country,” it added.

Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs tweeted, “EAM @SushmaSwaraj emplanes on her first-ever visit to Saudi Arabia. During the visit, she will meet with the Saudi leadership and participate at the inauguration of the prestigious ‘Janadriyah’ festival being held in Saudi Arabia, at which India is the guest of honour country.”

India and Saudi Arabia have historic and friendly relations. The landmark visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in April 2016 gave a strong impetus to the mutually beneficial strategic ties.

Earlier, VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Muhammad bin Eyaf al-Muqrin Al-Saud, Saudi Minister of National Guard addressed a joint press conference and informed that India’s participation in the festival of Janadriyah will be multifaceted.

“We will have an Indian pavilion where we will project a number of Indian themes and projects. The pavilion will comprise glimpses of traditional and modern India,” said VK Singh.

VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Muhammad bin Eyaf al-Muqrin Al-Saud, Saudi Minister of National Guard addressing a joint press conference.
VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Muhammad bin Eyaf al-Muqrin Al-Saud, Saudi Minister of National Guard addressing a joint press conference informing about the visit of Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Photo courtesy: Twitter@MEA

“We greatly value our close and deep rooted civilizational and strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia...I have no doubt that India's participation in this festival will take our relationship to new heights,” he added.

Saudi Arabia is home to more than 3 million Indian people and ties between the two countries are on an upswing in the last few years. 

Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest trading partner for India with bilateral trade exceeding USD 25 billion in 2016-17. As the largest supplier of crude oil, Saudi Arabia accounts for about 20 per cent of total annual imports of India.  

The volume of bilateral trade during 2016-17 was recorded at USD 25.079 billion, a slight decrease from the USD 26.71 billion in 2015-16. 

According to MEA, “About 3.2 million strong and vibrant Indian community forms the largest expatriate group in Saudi Arabia. Their positive and well-appreciated contribution in the development of their host country has been an important element of our bilateral engagement.”

As Sushma Swaraj will wind up her trip to Saudi Arabia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a state visit to the Middle East countries comprising of Palestine, the UAE, and Oman from February 9-12.

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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