Riyadh: The first round of the India-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Senior Officers Meeting (SOM) was held today in Riyadh. The two sides conveyed happiness over the progress in trade and investment between India-GCC countries.
They also agreed for an early finalisation of the India-GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in the press release. The Indian delegation was led by Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary(CPV&OIA) while the GCC delegation was led by Abdul Aziz Bin Hamad Al-Owaishaq, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Negotiations, GCC.
Ausaf Sayeed called for more collaboration between India and GCC countries in renewable energy, food security, health, IT sector and counter-terrorism. The two sides proposed the formation of Joint Working Groups to cater to particular areas of cooperation between India and GCC countries.
"Secretary(CPV&OIA) invited for more collaboration between India and GCC countries in renewable energy, food security, health, IT sector and counter-terrorism," the Ministry of External Affairs said in the press release.
It further said, "Both sides proposed formation of Joint Working Groups to cater to particular areas of cooperation between India and GCC countries. These joint working groups would be headed by experts and would ensure regular and continuous progress across priority sectors."
The two sides looked forward for an early convention of the India-GCC TROIKA meeting at Foreign Minister level. All six member countries of the GCC attended the meeting. The India-GCC SOM meeting was held pursuant to the MOU signed on the India-GCC Mechanism of Consultation during External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's visit to Riyadh in September 2022.
According to the press release, the two sides appreciated the progress in relations between India-GCC countries built on historical ties, coupled with growing trade and investment, and the presence of approximately 8.5 million Indian diaspora in the region.
The MEA in the press release said, "GCC as a trade bloc is the largest trade partner to India with a total trade of USD 154 Billion in FY 2021-22 They agreed that people-to-people ties need to be further enhanced. The discussion also focused upon regional issues of importance."
Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary(CPV&OIA) also held a meeting with Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General. GCC in a tweet wrote, "During his meeting with the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of India. The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council stresses the importance of strengthening the Gulf-Indian strategic relations to serve common interests."