Pakistan has invited Saudi Arabia to join $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the 3rd strategic partner. A formal invitation was made in this regard after Pakistan PM Imran Khan visited Saudi Arabia during his 1st foreign trip after getting elected.
India-Iran ties are shaped around energy, Central Asia and security (mostly around Pakistan-Afghanistan region). These are currently being influenced by hostile relations between the US and Iran and also many other Gulf neighbours, including Israel. Yet, Iran, amid the growing tensions between India and China, remains strategically important for New Delhi. Despite pressure from the US, India is treading a fine path notwithstanding Tehran’s strong and persistent criticism. However, there is a possibility of improved Iran-China relations, which is a threat to India’s strategic interests. A sound multilateral approach to address these issues is a need of the hour.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched China’s most ambitious project One Belt One Road (OBOR) which involves the building of two projects namely – Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR). OBOR later came to be known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). BRI is arguably the most ambitious global infrastructure project ever envisaged by one country. However, is this merely an economic project? or a geopolitical one of China? Will India get any benefit by joining this project or not? Let us discuss those issues in detail.
To India, the Persian Gulf plays a vital role in its economy as it supplies nearly two-thirds of India’s total oil import. The bilateral trade with the nations present in this region is also flourishing in recent years. Over the years, millions of Indians have also migrated to the Persian Gulf region in search of jobs and they account for a sizable share in the total remittance received from abroad. Indian External Affairs Ministry refers to this region as West Asia and not as the Middle East which is a more popular attribution in Western countries. India’s policy in West Asia has, in recent times, have become highly cordial despite the numerous differences between various nations within this region. This is because of India’s neutral and flexible approach while interacting with these nations. However, it still faces challenges due to the external influences from major powers like the US. India’s Look West Policy has been enhanced to deal with this complicated issue. This policy has enabled India to maintain strategic autonomy while also pursuing its economic interests.