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India, United States likely to strengthen cooperation and intensify Intelligence sharing on Terrorism

The governments also agreed on a "joint cyber framework to reduce cybercrime," according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

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Barak Obama and Narendra Modi. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

August 31, 2016: The United States and India announced on Tuesday that they are strengthening cooperation on fighting terrorism.

The two democracies will intensify intelligence sharing and specifically “work for the early operationalization of an agreement on exchanging information on known or suspected terrorists,” India’s external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, told reporters in New Delhi.

The governments also agreed on a “joint cyber framework to reduce cybercrime,” according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Overall, ministers and officials of India and the United States are touting a significantly expanded strategic and economic relationship, which Kerry said, “couldn’t come at a more important moment.”

Students in Agartala, India, show solidarity with victims of a terrorist attack on a Bangladeshi café in early July. On Tuesday, Indian and U.S. officials announced plans for greater cooperation in combatting terrorism (VOA)
Students in Agartala, India, show solidarity with victims of a terrorist attack on a Bangladeshi café in early July. On Tuesday, Indian and U.S. officials announced plans for greater cooperation in combatting terrorism (VOA)

The wide-ranging second U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue is the latest in a series of significant meetings and agreements that have moved traditionally non-aligned New Delhi into a significantly closer relationship with Washington amid rising concerns in both capitals about a more assertive China.

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“The bilateral relationship is gradually entering a phase where India can certainly look forward to being regarded as a close ally or partner of the U.S.,” said Reshmi Kazi, an associate fellow at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, an autonomous research institution funded by India’s defense ministry. “There might be rising apprehensions in China about deepening of strategic ties between the U.S. and India for obvious reasons.”

The “intensity of the bilateral relationship is unprecedented,” said Swaraj, as she initiated the dialogue held at her ministry.

Issues under discussion range from U.S. quotas for temporary work visas to American assistance for upgrading India’s power grid.

India, the world’s largest democracy, in recent years has kicked aside numerous trade barriers. New Delhi has set a goal with Washington to expand bilateral trade five-fold to $500 billion annually.

To reach that goal, participants in the current dialogue need to “think bigger, act bolder,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the other Cabinet-level official attending from Washington.

“We must make it easier for Indian and American companies to buy from each other, to invest in each other, and to create with each other.”

CEO forum
Kerry met Tuesday with India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval. He is scheduled to hold talks Wednesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While the Pentagon would welcome a much more comprehensive defense relationship with India, some analysts in India say they believe New Delhi will only stray so far from its traditional policy of eschewing alliances.

“There has been no rush, and bilateral defense ties are being forged only when India has felt the need for greater cooperation with the U.S.,” Kazi, who is also a visiting fellow at the Stimson Center, told VOA. “Hence, there is no abrogation of India’s traditional diplomatic stance of being non-aligned.”

Joint military drills

The dialogue in New Delhi comes a day after the two countries, at the Pentagon, signed a watershed agreement to allow their military forces access to each other’s bases for repairs and to replenish supplies; however, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) stops short of allowing each nation to set up bases and access to military facilities in the respective countries will only occur when they agree to operate together.

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“India’s deepening military cooperation could possibly be interpreted as a signal to China not to disturb India’s maritime security in the Indian Ocean region,” Kazi said.

U.S. and Indian forces are now also conducting significant annual joint drills, something else unimaginable a generation ago when the United States was a critical military backer of India’s archrival, Pakistan.

Next month’s joint drill, in the mountains of northern India, will include integration of both armies “working together down at the platoon level,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, who commands the U.S. Army’s I Corps. (VOA)

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Saudi Arabia and India Explore New Avenues Together

We are working towards transforming our economy, governance and society to achieve the dreams envisaged by our leadership for our great nation

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Saudi Arabia, India, Avenues
Saudi Arabia continues its illustrious journey of progress under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Pixabay

This September 23 marks the 89th anniversary of the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud. The glorious history of our nation was made by the sacrifices of our founder King and his successors who transformed our great country into a regional leader and global economic power.

Saudi Arabia continues its illustrious journey of progress under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

We are working towards transforming our economy, governance and society to achieve the dreams envisaged by our leadership for our great nation. Under the ambitious Vision 2030, we are now looking at a post-oil age of world-class technological research, startup development, entrepreneurial vigour and vast investment opportunities.

Our leadership has placed the Saudi citizens and their aspirations at the heart of Vision 2030. The entire development narrative of the Kingdom rests on three pillars — to build a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation.

Saudi Arabia, India, Avenues
This September 23 marks the 89th anniversary of the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud. Pixabay

The Kingdom’s economic and social reforms are beginning to bear fruit and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects our non-oil real growth to rise by 2.9 per cent in 2019. The current IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook has ranked Saudi Arabia in the 26th position, making the Kingdom the seventh most competitive country among our G20 peers. The World Bank too has ranked the Kingdom as the fourth largest reformer within G20.

We aim to be among the top 10 capital markets in the world by 2030. We are also focusing on logistics. Our aim is to attract 1.6 trillion riyals in private investments over the next decade through National Industrial Development and Logistics Program.

Multiple giga-projects including Neom, Qiddiya, Red Sea Tourism Project etc. are all set to change the touristic map of Saudi Arabia. Special mention goes to Green Riyadh, one of the world’s largest urban greening projects. With the planting of 7.5 million trees, the green cover in the Saudi capital will increase from 1.5 per cent to 9.1 per cent of the total area.

The per capita green space availability will thus increase to nearly thrice of World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation. The project will help reduce average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and use more than one million cubic metres of treated sewage effluent daily for irrigation.

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King Salman Park Project is yet another grand project slated to become the world’s biggest city park — complete with a National Theatre, an Opera House and an 18-hole royal golf course.

As part of the Vision, the Kingdom is aiming at localising strategic technologies and enabling Saudi young people to work with advanced state-of-the-art technologies.

With a $12 billion IT market and a $10 billion emerging technology market, the Kingdom is today one of the world’s most attractive economies. Our strong digital infrastructure has increased the mobile internet speed four times, surpassing the global average; increased fiber network coverage by 50 per cent to more than one million additional houses and provided 100 per cent internet access.

The newly strengthened communication infrastructure has also enabled the health sector to aspire to contribute about $500 million to the GDP by 2030. Our e-government initiative is building government institutions that are effective, transparent and accountable — we are issuing commercial licences within 24 hours, renewing passports in five minutes and issuing digital authorisation in less than 10 minutes.

Saudi Arabia, India, Avenues
The glorious history of our nation was made by the sacrifices of our founder King and his successors who transformed our great country into a regional leader and global economic power. Pixabay

We are also aiming at full automation of Haj related processes to make the journey more comfortable. The Maqam online portal is issuing electronic visas within minutes of completing the forms. New technologies have been implemented at the Jeddah and Madinah airports to facilitate the pilgrims. Makkah Road Initiative is also enabling the pilgrims to enter the Kingdom via dedicated lanes in record time.

In partnership with the private sector, we are also developing cloud technologies to unify all pilgrim-related data so that real-time insights can be used to improve crowd management, transport and logistics. We are also tapping into mobile applications and the IoT to promote digitally administered services for the pilgrims.

Developing a robust infrastructure for public and commercial transport is quintessential to realising our dreams for our nation. The Kingdom is investing heavily on building modern transportation networks to strengthen its position as a distinct logistics platform between the three continents — Asia, Europe and Africa.

The new Riyadh Metro will be able to carry 1.16 million passengers daily, while the Riyadh Bus Network will be able to carry about 900,000 passengers every day to feed the Metro trains. They are part of the ambitious Riyadh Public Transit Network Project (RPTN).

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Saudi Railway Company (SAR) and Huawei will work together to jointly design and innovate in the field of smart railways, including the application of a next-generation railway wireless network, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, cloud services and 5G across SAR’s railway network. In this context, the Haramain High-Speed Railway has become fully operational with the capacity of transporting 60 million people annually between Makkah and Madinah.

Saudi Arabia is leading the global campaign against terrorism, terror financing and extremism. We recently became the first Arab country to gain membership of the elite Financial Action Task Force that works against terror financing. Our leadership’s endeavour to promote peace and stability in the region has been persistent.

Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a historic peace agreement in September 2018 in Jeddah in the presence of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, ending over two decades of conflict. The UN Secretary-General lauded the Kingdom and its leadership’s role in contributing towards bringing the two parties together and facilitating the peace agreement.

Our values guide us in our humanitarian endeavour. The Kingdom’s development and humanitarian assistance amounted to 3.7 per cent of the Saudi GDP, surpassing the UN proposed rate of 0.7 per cetn of GDP. The Kingdom has been instrumental in extending financial aid estimated at $116 billion to 95 developing countries.

As providing adequate funding to implement Sustainable Development Goals is one of the most important challenges facing the world, as hosts of G20 Summit in November 2020, we are determined to ensure sustainability through an agenda focused on climate change, food security, access to energy and water, and investment in human capital.

We look forward to India’s continued partnership. Saudi Arabia has valued India as a close friend and valuable strategic partner. Our dynamic cultural, economic and political partnership is based on mutual respect and shared interests.

There are nearly 3 million Indians who live and work in Saudi Arabia and their contribution in the development of the Kingdom has been significant. Our newly announced residency permit scheme for qualified international expatriates will further attract global entrepreneurs, innovators and investors from India and across the world.

The visit of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz earlier this year to India has been a historic milestone in terms of bilateral co-operation between our two countries with the setting up of the Strategic Partnership Council. Saudi Arabia is looking at making investments in India potentially worth $100 billio