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Ensuring A Broader Connectivity

Ajit Kumar Doval, the National Security Adviser (NSA) of India, recently met his US counterpart Jacob ‘Jake’ Jeremiah Sullivan in Riyadh in the presence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and National Security Adviser of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan mainly to discuss the laying of railway tracks in West Asia (or the Middle East). In fact, the four countries are planning to implement this project under the initiative of Washington DC. The four officials also discussed strengthening the connectivity between West Asia and South Asia through shipping lanes.

The local media reported: “The initiative would include connecting Arab countries in the Levant and the Gulf via a network of railways that will also connect to India through seaports in the Gulf.” Earlier, Sullivan revealed that the US was planning to develop a railway infrastructure in West Asia after holding talks with senior officials of the I2U2 Group, which had proposed the project in a rare first. Speaking at an event organised by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, he stressed: “If you remember nothing else from my speech, remember I2U2, because you will be hearing more about it as we go forward.

China has increased its influence in West Asia in recent times. Now, the US wants to connect the West with South Asia in an attempt to counter the Asian giant’s hegemony. The Joe Biden Administration has decided to use India’s experience in implementing those projects. According to senior diplomats, India and the Arab nations are supposed to benefit from the US venture. Doval and Sullivan also held a separate meeting in Saudi Arabia on May 7, 2023 to review the progress of various decisions made in the last QUAD meeting, especially in security-related issues.

The White House issued a statement, saying: “National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met Saudi Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and National Security Adviser of India Ajit Doval on May 7 in Saudi Arabia to advance their shared vision of a more secure and prosperous Middle East region interconnected with India and the world.

Incidentally, China mediated peace talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in March 2023. Beijing recently strengthened its ties with the Islamic Republic. Based on this relation, China is gradually trying to expand its influence over the Arab nations. On the other hand, India has played the role of a mediator in repairing US’ relations with Saudi Arabia. India, too, enjoys friendly ties with Iran. However, Iran’s ties with the US are not so cordial. In such a scenario, India and the US have agreed to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

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