NEW DELHI: NSA Ajit Doval met his US, Saudi Arabian and UAE counterparts on Sunday to discuss efforts to advance their “shared vision of a more secure and prosperous West Asia region interconnected with India and the world” and to improve connectivity in the region.
Doval also had bilateral meetings with US’ Jake Sullivan, Saudi PM and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UAE NSA Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss regional and global issues. Doval and Sullivan also agreed to meet on the sidelines of the Quad summit later this month in Australia.
The US media reported on Sunday that the NSAs were discussing a possible major joint infrastructure project to connect Gulf and Arab countries via a network of railways that would also be connected to India via shipping lanes from ports in the region. The project is seen as an attempt to counter growing Chinese influence in the Gulf, especially after it brokered the Saudi-Iran peace agreement.
The idea for the new initiative came up during talks held over the last 18 months in another forum called I2U2, which includes the US, Israel, UAE and India, said a report by Axios, a Virginia-based media house. The forum was established in late 2021 to discuss strategic infrastructure projects in the West Asia.
Israel raised the idea of connecting the region through railways during the I2U2 meetings over the last year. Part of the idea was to use India’s expertise on such big infrastructure projects, a former Israeli official was quoted as saying.