Saudi Arabia on Wednesday signed the framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) becoming the 73rd country to join the India-led renewable energy organisation which now has a total of 122 members.
The signing of the agreement took place after a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who arrive on a state visit to India on Tuesday night.
In the delegation-level talks, the two sides discussed key areas of mutual interest such as trade and investment, renewable energy, defence, nuclear and space, civil aviation, counter-terrorism, community welfare as well as regional challenges.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had earlier said that Riyadh’s decision to join the alliance, which was launched by PM Modi at the India Africa Summit ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
Addressing a joint press conference in New Delhi with the Crown Prince, PM Modi said, “We welcome Saudi Arabia to the ISA.”
The first summit of the ISA was inaugurated in New Delhi by PM Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron on 11 March.
Saudi Arabia’s decision follows its increasing investment in the renewable energy sector. Through the ISA, Riyadh is expected to develop opportunities in the solar energy sector.
Underlining the increasing economic ties between India and Saudi Arabia, PM Modi said that Salman’s vision 2030 is in line with India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and other reform measures.
He also highlighted that Saudi Arabia’s participation in the world’s largest refinery and strategic petrol reserves takes the two nations above the buyer-seller relationship.
In 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, signed an agreement with a consortium of Indian oil companies for the construction of Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. (RRPCL) in Maharashtra, which will be the world’s largest upon completion.
Indian companies include Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL). Aramco is investing $44 billion in the project.
At the joint press conference, Salman said that his country will also look for investment opportunities in other sectors in India.
“We share the same mutual benefits in energy, culture, social sectors, etc. We can do common planning,” Salman said.
The PM also welcomed Saudi investment in Indian infrastructure.