Sunday January 19, 2020

PM Modi reaches Saudi Arabia, focus on trade agreements

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Abu Dhabi (UAE): Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the Shiekh Zayed Grand Mosque, at Abu Dhabi, UAE on Aug 16, 2015. Photo: IANS/

Riyadh: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday is part of a broader diplomatic offensive to put pressure on arch rival Pakistan by forging ties with some of Islamabad’s closest allies, government officials have said, according to news agency Reuters.

The PM is expected to sign trade agreements, including contracts to secure investment for infrastructure projects, and offer security and military cooperation, such as training and joint exercises, they said.

The visit comes just months after he travelled to another major Pakistan ally, the United Arab Emirates, and signed a security cooperation agreement that includes regular meetings between top security advisers.

“It’s simple. We have to do everything to deal with Pakistan – use economics, strategy and emotional ties to win the hearts of Islamabad’s friends,” said Ram Madhav, General Secretary of the ruling BJP.

New Delhi has been frustrated that often its ties with countries have been coloured by concerns about its relationship with Pakistan. One foreign ministry official (unnamed by Reuters) said the Saudis tended to bring up Pakistan during discussions with India.

Government officials described the PM’s diplomatic push as an effort to “de-hyphenate” India from Pakistan, especially as Delhi tries to play a bigger geopolitical role in Asia to counter China’s influence.

Until now, India’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has been driven primarily by trade and the Indian diaspora in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is India’s top energy supplier and home to more than 3.5 million Indian expatriates and labour reforms would also be key talking points.

Still, there are limits to what the PM can hope to achieve. The relationship between Pakistan and the Saudis goes back decades, based in their shared Sunni Muslim heritage.

Saudi Arabia has long been a source of financial aid for Islamabad. In 2014, the Saudis gave Pakistan $1.5 billion as a “gift” to shore up its foreign reserves.

But Indian officials said the timing was right for PM Modi’s visit, as relations between Riyadh and Islamabad enter a rough patch.

Pakistan declined to provide ships, aircraft and troops to the Saudi-led fight to halt Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen last year. It has also sought to avoid taking sides in the escalating dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

“Pakistan knows that relations with Saudi have come to a low. That doesn’t mean that India can fill that gap,” said Zahid Hussain, a former newspaper editor in Pakistan. “But certainly this is part of Modi’s diplomatic offensive in the region.”

Credits: NDTV

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I Fall in Love with India Every Time I Return Here: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

On Friday, Goyal clarified that government welcomes all kinds of investments into the country which are within the ambit of the law

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Amazon.in arrived in India on June 5, 2013 and for world's top billionaire Jeff Bezos, has transformed the way the country buys and sells. VOA

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday posted a note on the company’s e-commerce website Amazon India, saying “he falls in love with India every time he returns here”, a day after Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal snubbed him during a public event.

“I fall in love with India every time I return here. The boundless energy, innovation and grit of the Indian people always inspire me,” Bezos wrote in the letter while mentioning Amazon’s investment in the Indian economy and that the firm is aiming to create 10 lakh new jobs by 2025.

Bezos, in the letter, added that more than 550,000 small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India are using Amazon as a platform to offer millions of products.

The new expected jobs are on top of the 700,000 jobs Amazon has already created in the country since 2013.

Amazon, drones
In this Sept. 13, 2018, file photo Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, speaks at The Economic Club of Washington’s Milestone Celebration in Washington. VOA

On Thursday, Goyal not only ticked off Bezos saying that they are not doing India a favour by investing a billion dollars, but also raised concerns if its losses were a result of predatory pricing and if Amazon and Flipkart were gaining entry into multi-brand retail by using loopholes.

Also Read: Tech Giant Apple Solves Location Privacy Issue with iPhone 11 in 2nd iOS 13.3.1 Beta

On Friday, Goyal clarified that government welcomes all kinds of investments into the country which are within the ambit of the law.

“We welcome all kinds of investments that follow the letter and spirit of the law. If some investment is outside the legal purview, appropriate action will be taken,” he told reporters. (IANS)