Saudi Crown Prince begins day-long state visit after G20 Summit; PM Modi to discuss bilateral trade, connectivity

News Network
September 11, 2023

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New Delhi, Sept 11: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday began a state visit to India, after participating in the G20 Summit over the weekend, to review bilateral ties and cooperation in areas ranging from energy to security.
 
The de facto Saudi ruler, who also holds the post of prime minister, will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the day-long visit.

Saud Al-Sati, the Saudi deputy minister for political and economic affairs, travelled to New Delhi last month to review preparations for the visit by Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS as he is popularly known. Al-Sati, who earlier served as the ambassador to India, met Ausaf Sayeed, secretary (overseas Indian affairs) in the external affairs ministry, and reviewed the gamut of bilateral relations.

The current Saudi ambassador, Saleh Eid Alhusseini, also met external affairs minister S Jaishankar last Tuesday. “Look forward to the further development and progress of the India-Saudi Arabia relationship across all domains,” Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting.

Modi and MBS had a phone conversation in June when they reviewed bilateral cooperation and discussed ways to bolster ties in connectivity, energy, defence, trade and investment. This was the first contact between the leadership of the two countries since China brokered a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia has emerged as one of India’s key partners in West Asia in recent years, especially in defence, security and energy. Saudi Arabia is also home to 2.6 million Indians, one of the largest concentrations of expatriates in the region.

MBS last visited India in February 2019, and this was followed by a visit to Saudi Arabia by Modi in October the same year, when the two countries created the Strategic Partnership Council. This body has two pillars – a political, security, social and cultural committee headed by the foreign ministers, and a committee on economy and investments led by the Indian commerce minister and the Saudi energy minister.

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News Network
April 13,2024

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New Delhi: Seventeen Indians are on board an Israeli-linked container ship that has been seized by the Iranian military amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel.

Official sources said India is in touch with Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels, both in Tehran and in Delhi, to ensure the welfare and early release of the Indian nationals.

The Iranian action came amid increasing fears that Tehran may launch an attack on Israeli soil in retaliation to a strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria 12 days ago.

"We are aware that a cargo ship 'MSC Aries' has been taken control by Iran. We have learnt that there are 17 Indian nationals onboard," said a source.

"We are in touch with the Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels, both in Tehran and in Delhi, to ensure security, welfare and early release of Indian nationals," it said.

Reports said Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards seized MSC Aries on Saturday morning when it was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz.

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News Network
April 17,2024

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Dubai: Dubai was slapped by heavy floods as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was hit by extremely heavy rains on Tuesday. The desert city received over a year and a half's worth of rain in just a day even as heavy thunderstorms lashed other parts of the UAE.

Roads turned into rivers as they were filled up with water. Shopping centres like Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates were also seen flooding.

Schools across the UAE have been shut and are expected to remain closed on today as well.

According to a report by India Today, Dubai airport received about 100 mm of rain in just 12 hours on Tuesday and a total of 160 mm in the last 24 hours.

On average, Dubai receives about 88.9 mm of rain in a year, which concludes that the city received more than a year's rain in a day.

Dubai International Airport said on Wednesday it was experiencing significant disruption due to bad weather and was working to restore normal operations as quickly as possible.

Flights have been delayed or diverted and impacted by displaced crew, the airport said in a statement, adding that recovery would take some time.

Dubai's Emirates airline said that it was suspending check-in for passengers departing the airport from 8 am (0400 GMT) on Wednesday until midnight due to operational challenges caused by the bad weather and road conditions.

Dubai International was temporarily diverting arriving flights on Tuesday evening because of a storm, and operations were suspended for 25 minutes earlier in the day.

According to India Today, the airport stopped flight operations and issued a warning earlier today on X.

The Dubai International Airport requested the passengers to check their flight status.

Employees in Dubai have been told to work from home.

The UAE Government took to X and said, "Based on the directives of the Council of Ministers, it was decided to extend remote work until tomorrow, Wednesday, April 17, for all federal government employees, with the exception of jobs that require presence at the workplace, taking into account the weather condition that the country is going through."

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News Network
April 13,2024

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Tehran, Apr 13: Iranian armed forces have seized a container ship near the Strait of Hormuz amid rising tensions across the region after a deadly Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria.

The incident comes amid Israel bracing for Iranian retaliation after the regime's April 1 strike on a building in the Iranian embassy compound in the Syrian capital of Damascus, which killed seven IRGC military advisors, including two generals.

The ship was commandeered by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the elite force that lost seven members in the Syria strike, Iranian state media reported on Saturday.

“The ship has now been guided towards the territorial waters of our country,” state-run IRNA reported.

The vessel was identified as the Portugal-flagged MSC Aries, which reportedly departed from a port in the United Arab Emirates en route to India. 

Footage from the deck of the vessel obtained by The Associated Press news agency on Saturday showed soldiers rappelling down from a helicopter.

The helicopter appeared to be a Soviet-designed Mil Mi-17, which is operated by the naval forces of the IRGC.

Zodiac Maritime said in a statement that MSC is responsible for all vessel activities.

“Title to the vessel is held by Gortal Shipping Inc as financier and she has been leased to MSC on a long-term basis. Gortal Shipping Inc is affiliated with Zodiac Maritime,” it said.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) had said a vessel was seized by “regional authorities” 50 nautical miles (92km) northeast of the UAE’s Fujairah in a waterway vital to world trade.

Another Israeli-linked container ship was attacked and damaged by a drone in the Indian Ocean in late November, which the United States blamed on Iran.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a post on X that the move by Iran was “a pirate operation in violation of international law”.

He called on the European Union and “the free world to immediately declare” the IRGC a “terrorist organization and to sanction Iran now”.

The Gulf of Oman is near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all globally traded oil passes. Fujairah, on the United Arab Emirates’ eastern coast, is a main port in the region for ships to take on new oil cargo, pick up supplies or trade out crew.

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