WASHINGTON (Agencies): The United States, Saudi Arabia, India, and several other nations are engaged in discussions regarding a potential infrastructure agreement that could reshape trade dynamics between the Gulf region and South Asia.
The proposed plan involves establishing railway connections between Middle Eastern countries and establishing ports in India to facilitate trade.
The talks, which have also involved the United Arab Emirates and European nations, are still in progress and may or may not lead to a formal agreement in time for an announcement during the Group of 20 (G20) leaders meeting this week.
While the negotiations have been ongoing for several months, they remain fluid, with various details yet to be finalized. US President Joe Biden is en route to the G20 conference in New Delhi, India, where he is scheduled to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and may also engage in discussions with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The proposal for a comprehensive, multinational infrastructure deal comes at a crucial juncture. To counter China’s global infrastructure initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative,
President Biden is positioning Washington as an alternative partner and investor for developing countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, as part of his G20 agenda. Furthermore, these discussions align with the Biden administration’s broader diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, which include seeking a diplomatic accord where Saudi Arabia recognizes Israel.
The negotiations concerning this multi-country infrastructure deal were initially reported by Axios. Beyond their diplomatic significance, officials are hopeful that such an infrastructure agreement could lead to reduced shipping times, lower costs, decreased reliance on diesel, and expedited and more cost-effective trade processes.