US President Joe Biden, along with Indian Prime Minister Modi and leaders from Gulf states, are preparing to unveil a joint infrastructure agreement during the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Delhi this weekend, reported The Times of India.
The initiative forms part of the US’s strategy to counter China’s growing influence in the region, as per sources cited by Axios and Reuters.
The primary goal of this plan is to create a network of railways connecting Gulf and Arab nations while also establishing connectivity to India through shipping routes originating from regional ports.
These discussions align with the broader diplomatic efforts of the Biden administration in the Middle East, which includes advocating for Saudi Arabia to acknowledge Israel, according to Axios.
There have been talks about a US-backed proposal to expedite land-trade routes between Gulf Arab nations and the Mediterranean Sea, involving Israel and Gulf nations.
Nevertheless, officials have acknowledged that there isn’t a specific timeline for implementing these changes.
Earlier this year, Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, engaged in discussions in Saudi Arabia that included Indian and US representatives. These discussions explored potential areas of collaboration, including investments in strategic infrastructure projects such as ports and railways.
Axios suggests that announcing this project is likely to increase the chances of a possible brief bilateral meeting between Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Delhi.
The US’s efforts come at a time when Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both longstanding US allies, have been strengthening their ties with China as they seek to enhance relations with rapidly growing eastern economies.
Last month, these oil-rich Gulf states declared their intention to join the BRICS group of emerging market nations, with China taking a leading role in this endeavor.
The BRICS leaders are also working to boost the group’s influence and counter US dominance in the global economy and trade, including the role of the US dollar.
In recent years, the US has actively opposed President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has financed extensive infrastructure projects in emerging markets.
China has also been enhancing its connections with the Middle East, including facilitating a détente between Saudi Arabia and Iran earlier this year.