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India in talks with US and Saudi Arabia for joint deal on railways and ports

India is in talks with world leaders from countries such as the US and Saudi Arabia to discuss a joint infrastructure deal that will connect Gulf and Arab countries via a network of railways and ports, as reported by Reuters.

The deal could be a key initiative in the Middle East, where China’s influence is expanding, the American newsletter Axios said in its report. The Middle East is also a key part of Beijing’s Belt and Road vision, it noted.

The Biden administration is aiming to finalise a large-scale deal with Saudi Arabia, possibly including a normalization agreement with Israel before the 2024 Presidential election campaign takes over Biden’s schedule. The project, according to Axios, is anticipated to link Arab nations in the Levant and Gulf through a railway network, which will also extend to India via Gulf seaports.

This initiative was proposed during discussions going on for the past 18 months at the I2U2 forum, which included countries like the US, Israel, the UAE, and India. It was established in late 2021 to discuss strategic infrastructure projects in the Middle East and counterbalance Beijing’s growing regional influence.

Israel proposed the idea of connecting the region via railways during the I2U2 meetings over the past year, with part of the plan involving India’s expertise in large infrastructure projects. The Biden administration later expanded the idea to include Saudi Arabia’s participation, as reported by Axios.

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