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India-Saudi Arabia Sign Defence Cooperatioon Pact
Feb 28, 2014

India and Saudi Arabia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on defence cooperation for greater exchange of information and training on 26 February in New Delhi. The agreement was signed during the three-day visit of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. The agreement was signed by Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar Bin Obaid Madani and India's Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh.

The defence pact will allow shared use and exchange of defence-related information, military training and education as well as cooperation in areas varying from hydrography and security to logistics.

Crown Prince Salman's is the highest level political visit from the kingdom after the January 2006 visit of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations. The crown prince is next in line to the throne and is the deputy prime minister and defence minister of Saudi Arabia. The Crown Prince was accompanied by a high-level delegation including cabinet ministers, senior officials and leaders of Saudi industry.

The two countries are eager to work together in curbing money laundering and drug trafficking and enhance cooperation in areas ranging from hydrocarbons to security. Saudi Arabia sees India as an attractive investment hub for its business interests in Asia and seeks Indian investments in areas such as consultancy, construction, telecom, information technology and pharmaceuticals.

Saudi Arabia is India's fourth largest partner with bilateral trade of over $43 billion in 2012-13. Saudi Arabia is also India's largest crude oil supplier accounting for about one-fifth of total imports in 2012-13. India's exports to Saudi Arabia include mineral fuels, cereals, steel, iron ore and organic chemicals, while imports comprise crude oil, plastics and its articles, fertilisers, aluminium and leather.

Indians form the largest expatriate community in Saudi Arabia and their contribution in the progress and development of their host country is well recognised. There are over 2.88 million Indian nationals now working in Saudi Arabia.

During the Indian Prime Minister's visit to Saudi Arabia in 2010, both the countries had decided to elevate the bilateral engagement to Strategic Partnership covering security, economic, defence and political areas. In recent years, there has been significant progress in bilateral cooperation in key areas of mutual interest, including energy security, trade and infrastructure development projects.

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