Mideast corridor will include trains to India, says Delhi

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NEW DELHI: A new ports and railway corridor for the Middle East and South Asia will include train links to India, an Indian foreign ministry official said on Monday, offering new details about the plan unveiled over the weekend at the G20 summit in Delhi.

Asked about the proposals, Ausaf Sayeed, a secretary in the Foreign Ministry, spelled out that the corridor would include trains to India and not just links by port.

“India would be connected by railroads is the right interpretation, rather than India building the railroads,” he said in response to a question at a media briefing.

The multinational rail and ports deal, which includes as members the United States, Saudi Arabia, India, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates, is being viewed as a response to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

The corridor would be “the equivalent of the Silk Route and Spice Road,” Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al Falih said at an event in New Delhi later in the day, adding that it will provide “greater energy connectivity, green materials and processed and finished goods that will rebalance the global trade.”

During Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s state visit to New Delhi on Monday, India and Saudi Arabia also discussed the possibility of trading in local currencies and expediting the negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which Saudi Arabia is a member.

Sayeed said the two countries signed eight agreements on Monday, including a pact to upgrade their hydrocarbon energy partnership to a comprehensive energy partnership for renewables, petroleum and strategic reserves.

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