Saudi Arabia's crown prince has pledged investment and counterterrorism support on his first visit to India. Mohammed bin Salman's visit comes amid tension in the subcontinent after last week's suicide attack in Kashmir.
India's leader usually sends a junior official to welcome foreign dignitaries. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke protocol Tuesday to personally greet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in New Delhi.
The pair announced on Wednesday that they had signed several agreements to boost bilateral investment, infrastructure, tourism, housing and communications. The crown prince voiced the potential for $100 billion (€88 billion) in investment and vowed to help counter terrorism and cybercrimes through enhanced cooperation.
Bin Salman said he regarded Indian people as Saudi Arabia’s "friends" and that the two countries had ties dating back centuries.
"Since we remember ourselves, we know Indian people as friends, and they are part of building Saudi Arabia in the past 70 years," he said, seemingly a reference to migrant labor in the Kingdom.
But his office has indicated he was trying to assist in a diplomatic role to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
"Our objective is to try to de-escalate tensions between the two countries, neighboring countries, and to see if there is a path forward to resolving those differences peacefully," Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Monday.
Saudi Arabia is India's main supplier of crude oil, and ties are being extended beyond energy to build a strategic partnership, India's Foreign Ministry said last week. Bilateral trade is already worth $28 billion.
The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding over India's National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, signaling Saudi Arabia's commitment to help build ports and highways.
Saudi Aramco's investments also include plans to help build the $44 billion Ratnagiri Refinery, which would become the largest single location refinery complex in the world.
The crown prince on his earlier stop in Pakistan also signed $20 billion in deals, half of this going to an oil refinery in the country's southwest.