The first round of the India-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Senior Officers Meeting (SOM) was held in Riyadh. The Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release that Ausaf Sayeed, secretary (CPV&OIA), met with Saudi Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eng. Waleed bin Abdul Kareem El-Khereiji, on the Political-Security-Social-Cultural pillar of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council (SPC).

During the India-GCC summit on March 20, the two sides expressed their satisfaction with the progress made in trade and investment between India and the GCC countries. The Indian mission was led by Ausaf Sayeed, while the GCC team was led by Abdul Aziz Bin Hamad Al-Owaishaq, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Negotiations for the Gulf Cooperation Council.

According to a press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), both parties committed to complete the India-GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as soon as possible. Sayeed urged further collaboration between India and the GCC countries in renewable energy, food security, health, the information technology sector, and counter-terrorism. The two sides discussed forming Joint Working Groups to address specific areas of cooperation between India and the GCC countries.

Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Saudi Arabia's Minister for Hajj and Umrah, met with Ausaf Sayeed on Wednesday. According to the MEA, Sayeed expressed gratitude to Tawfiq Al-Rabiah for allocating a Hajj quota of 1,75,025 for India in 2023.

Sayeed stated that he had been invited to visit India at his earliest convenience. "Secretary (CPV&OIA), Dr Ausaf Sayeed @drausaf met with Minister of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and had discussions on various issues pertaining Indian Hajj and Umrah Pilgrims," the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia tweeted.

According to the announcement, the two sides agreed to make further progress on priority possibilities identified by the Committee in a variety of areas, including renewable energy, grid connection, medicines, food security, IT, fintech, and water resources.

On March 19, Sayeed met with Mohammad Al Hassnah, the Saudi Ministry of Investment's Deputy Minister for International Partnerships, to discuss potential for bilateral investment exchanges. The two parties discussed establishing an investment bridge to expedite pending investment projects and facilitate investors. (ANI)