India, the United States, Saudi Arabia and the European Union on Saturday announced a historic agreement to soon launch a mega India-Middle East-Europe shipping and railway connectivity corridor.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement for the ambitious project on the sidelines of the G20 Summit and was flanked by US President US Biden, Saudi Arabia Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman and leaders of the EU.
This is a historic and first-of-its-kind initiative on cooperation on connectivity and infrastructure involving India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, EU, France, Italy, Germany and the US. Speaking after the launch, PM Modi said, “I cordially welcome you all at this event. I am very happy to co-chair this event with my friend President Joe Biden. Today we all have seen the conclusion of a historic and important agreement. In the coming days, it will be an effective medium of economic integration between India, South Asia, and Europe”.
Speaking at the Bharat Mandapam venue of the G20 Summit here, PM Modi said the mega-deal will give a sustainable direction to connectivity and sustainability across the world.
He also congratulated all the leaders who were part of the connectivity corridor.
“Strong connectivity and infrastructure are the foundation of the development of human civilization. India has given this issue utmost priority during its course of development. Along with physical infrastructure, unprecedented investments are being made in social, economic and financial infrastructure as well,” PM Modi said.
He added, “Through this, we are laying a strong foundation for a developed India. As a reliable partner, India has set up infrastructure projects in the field of railways, energy, and technology partnerships, among the nations of the Global South. We have laid special emphasis on a demand-driven and transparent approach”.
The infrastructure deal is expected to connect countries in the Middle East via a network of railways. The network will also connect to India through shipping lanes from ports in the region.
White House Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer had earlier said that “The deal will benefit low and middle-income countries in the region, and enable a critical role for the Middle East in global commerce. We see this as having a high appeal to the countries involved, and also globally because it is transparent because it is a high standard because it is not coercive”.
Delving more on the initiative, Finer noted it was not just a railway project but more of a shipping and railway project. “It is not just the Railway project, it is a shipping and Railway project and it is important for people to understand how expansive, ambitious and ground-breaking this will be” Finer added.
Addressing the the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment (PGII) and India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor programme at Bharat Mandapam US President Joe Biden said, “This is a real big deal. I want to thank PM. One Earth, One Family, One Future that’s the focus of this G 20 Summit. And in many ways, it’s also the focus of this partnership that we’re talking about today. Building sustainable, resilient infrastructure, making quality infrastructure investments and creating a better future…”
Speaking at the same forum, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammed Bin Salman said, “… We look forward to the integration of the initiative and the Economic Corridor project which is announced in this meeting. I would like to thank those who worked with us to reach this founding step to establish this important economic corridor…”
French President Emmanuel Macron said, “… So now with the European Commission here, we commit to invest alongside with you on this road. And this is a very important project from Asia through Middle East to Europe to offer big opportunities and connect people.
“But our intention is as well to make it real and to be sure that after this commitment we have concrete results and especially to have the first global green trade road meaning having net zero transport infrastructure…” Macron said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday called the new economic corridor “historic” and said that these are state-of-the-art connections for the world of tomorrow, faster, shorter and cleaner.
The EU President said, “More large-scale projects are seeing the light. We are presenting two of them today. First the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor. This is nothing but historic.”
Ursula von der Leyen while addressing the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) and India Middle East Europe Economic Corridor event, highlighted that it will be the most direct connection between India, the Arabian Gulf and Europe till date. “It will be the most direct connection to date between India, the Arabian Gulf and Europe. These are state of the art connections for the world of tomorrow, faster, shorter, cleaner,” she added.
Moreover, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Saturday that the new economic corridor between India and the Middle East and Europe is a milestone in strengthening global interconnections.
Italian PM Meloni thanked PM Modi, US President Biden and others who made this possible and said that this will scale up our economic growth and opening enormous potential for mutual benefits in the business sector.
“When we launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment just over a year ago, we committed to building better infrastructure for better future in low and middle-income nations. We committed to cooperate with these nations with an equal…to create new opportunities and prosperity,” she said.
Noting the launch of new economic corridor linking India, Middle East and Europe, she added, “Today the launch of the new economic corridor between India and the Middle East and Europe goes precisely in this direction and is a milestone in strengthening global interconnections. And that is why I want to thank Prime Minister Modi, President Biden, and all the others, Ursula von der Leyan, and all the others who made it possible. This will scale up our economic growth, opening enormous potential for mutual benefits in the business sector. Obviously, Italy is ready to play decisive role in this process.”
“Our intention is as well to make it real and to be sure that after this commitment we have concrete results and especially to have the first global green trade road meaning having net zero transport infrastructure…” he added.
Saudi Arabia and the United States on Friday signed a bilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) for establishing intercontinental green transit corridors through the Kingdom to connect the continent of Asia with the continent of Europe.
The project aims to facilitate the transit of renewable electricity and clean hydrogen via transmission cables and pipelines as well as constructing rail linkages. It is also intended to enhance energy security, support efforts for the development of clean energy, promote digital economy through digital connectivity and transmission of data via fiber cables, and promote trade and transport of goods by rail and through ports, as per a release issued by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Saudi Arabia welcomed the role of the US in facilitating, and supporting the negotiations for the establishment, and implementation of the green corridors transit protocol with the relevant countries.
Meanwhile, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently began his Saudi Arabia visit with a meeting with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The two held talks at the start of a diplomatic mission focused on stabilizing Saudi Arabia-US ties after years of deepening disagreements on issues like human rights in Iran, regional security and oil prices as well, reported Al Jazeera.
Blinken and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman committed to “advance stability, security, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond, including through a comprehensive political agreement to achieve peace, prosperity, and security in Yemen,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.
The Secretary expressed appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s leadership in hosting the D-ISIS Ministerial and stressed joint continued efforts to fight terrorism. Blinken also emphasized that US-Saudi Arabia bilateral ties were strengthened by progress on human rights.