New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday with an aim to boost bilateral ties between the two countries in key sectors including energy and finance. PM Modi is paying a visit to the Kingdom at the invitation of Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
The Prime Minister will hold talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and launch the RuPay card in the country during the two-day visit. He will also attend the third session of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Forum in Riyadh, where he will deliver the keynote address. The Prime Minister will arrive in Riyadh on Monday night. A few Saudi ministers are slated to meet the visiting dignitary, the following day.
PM Modi is also scheduled to address the FII plenary session on Tuesday. He will leave for New Delhi on the same night. The FII is also known as the `Davos in the Desert` which has been hosted by Riyadh since 2017 to project the Kingdom as a potential investment hub in the region. "There will also be a bilateral segment to his visit where Prime Minister Modi will meet Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and hold bilateral talks with him," TS Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Affairs), Ministry of External Affairs, had told reporters on Thursday.
"An agreement on the Strategic Partnership Council will also be signed. There will also be separate delegation-level talks with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia," he added. The two countries are expected to hold joint naval exercises in December. PM Modi`s visit to Saudi Arabia comes amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following New Delhi`s decision to revoke Article 370 that granted special powers to Jammu and Kashmir.
Islamabad has unilaterally downgraded bilateral ties and has been attempting to internationalise the Kashmir issue but to no avail. Pakistan on Sunday turned down a request from India for the use of its airspace for Modi`s visit to Saudi Arabia. According to media reports, India had sought Pakistan`s permission to use the country`s airspace on October 28 for PM Modi.
New Delhi has taken the matter of Islamabad`s move to deny permission to the Prime Minister`s special flight to use its airspace, to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), sources in the government have said. According to the sources, overflight clearances are sought and granted by other countries as prescribed by the ICAO guidelines.
"Overflight clearances are sought and granted by other countries as per the prescribed guidelines of the ICAO. India will continue to seek such overflight clearances. We have taken up the matter of such denial with the civil aviation body," said the sources. "Pakistan should reflect upon its decision to deviate from well-established international practice, as well as reconsider its old habit of misrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action," added the sources.
The sources further said, "We regret the decision of the Government of Pakistan to yet again deny the overflight clearance for VVIP special flight, which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country." Pakistan had earlier also denied PM Modi access to its air space for his visit to the US to attend the 74th UN General Assembly session in September. Prior to this, President Ram Nath Kovind was also denied permission to use Pakistan`s airspace for his official visit to Europe.