External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has held a “productive” meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf during which the two leaders signed an MoU on the mechanism of consultations between India and the six-nation regional bloc.
Jaishankar arrived here on Saturday on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss ways to further strengthen relations between the two countries. It is his first visit to Saudi Arabia as External Affairs Minister.
On the first day of his visit on Saturday, Jaishankar met GCC Secretary-General and exchanged views on current regional and global issues.
“Productive meeting with @GCC Secretary-General Dr Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf. Signed the MoU on the mechanism of consultations between India and GCC. Exchanged views on the current regional and global situation and the relevance of India-GCC cooperation in that context,” Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting.
The GCC is a regional, intergovernmental, political, and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
India enjoys traditionally cordial relations and cooperation with the GCC.
India’s old, historical ties with the GCC states, coupled with increasing imports of oil and gas, growing trade and investment, and the presence of approximately 6.5 million Indian workers in the region, are of vital interest to India, according to the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.
India’s economic linkage with the GCC has increased steadily, especially due to the growth in oil imports.
During 2020-21, India’s exports to GCC were USD 28.06 billion. The bilateral two-way trade during the period was USD 87.36 billion.
Earlier this year, there was an unease in India’s ties with some Muslim-majority countries, including Gulf nations, over the controversial remarks of two former BJP leaders on the Prophet Mohammad.
All six GCC nations had condemned the remarks.