India is currently engaged in discussions with global leaders, including the United States and Saudi Arabia, regarding a collaborative infrastructure venture. The purpose of this endeavor is to establish a comprehensive network of railways and ports that will connect Gulf and Arab nations. Reuters reported on these ongoing negotiations.
Initial reports suggest that this ambitious project is poised to be officially announced on an upcoming Saturday. This announcement coincides with New Delhi’s hosting of President Joe Biden for the G20 Summit.
The significance of this proposed deal cannot be overstated, particularly in the context of the Middle East, where China’s influence is steadily expanding. Axios, an American newsletter, highlighted the Middle East’s central role in China’s Belt and Road vision.
The Biden administration is actively working towards finalizing a substantial agreement with Saudi Arabia, with the possibility of including a normalization pact with Israel, all before the 2024 Presidential election campaign dominates President Biden’s agenda. Axios has noted that this project is expected to establish a railway network connecting Arab nations in the Levant and Gulf regions, extending all the way to India through Gulf seaports.
This initiative took shape over the course of discussions spanning the past 18 months within the framework of the I2U2 forum. The forum included key countries such as the United States, Israel, the UAE, and India. Established in late 2021, its primary focus has been strategic infrastructure projects in the Middle East, aimed at countering the growing regional influence of Beijing.
The concept of connecting the region via railways was initially proposed by Israel during the I2U2 meetings held over the past year. India’s expertise in large-scale infrastructure projects played a significant role in shaping this proposal. Subsequently, the Biden administration expanded the concept to encompass Saudi Arabia’s participation, as reported by Axios.
When Axios sought confirmation from the White House regarding this deal, it declined to comment. An official from the United States involved in the negotiations mentioned that work on the announcement is still in progress and has not yet been finalized, as reported by Axios.
Requests for comments from the Indian and Saudi embassies in Washington went unanswered, and Emirati officials also refrained from providing any comments on the matter.