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What was the purpose of the Jordanian king’s visit to India?

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News Analysis |

Jordanian king, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein’s three-day visit to India is starting from today (February 27, 2018). He is expected to exchange notes with Indian authorities on ways to counter extremism and radicalization during his visit. Officials informed, “Security dialogue is on the cards between India and Jordan, and both countries are working to forge a defence framework agreement.” Earlier, their bilateral security dialogue was held in 2016. The king has first-hand knowledge related to security, being in the army. He is also a custodian of the Al-Aqsa mosque.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jordan on February 9, 2018, Jordan opened its arms to assist India in finding a missing Indian person in Iraq. Modi thanked Jordon for logistical support to facilitate his next visit to Palestine. He was the first Indian PM to visit Jordan in 3 decades. Modi was also the first to visit Palestine, after which he left for UAE. On the last leg of his trip, Modi paid a visit to Oman from 11-12 February.

Congress and BJP administrations have stated the Middle East is strategically interrelated to South Asia and India’s maritime doctrine of 2009 states that the Gulf and Arabian Sea are vital to India’s interests, including securing choke points.

These visits demonstrate India’s increased interest to move towards its “think west” policy to preserve its economic and strategic interests in the Middle East. Indo-Jordan economic ties are growing with the passage of time. India is Jordan’s fourth largest trade partner after Iraq, Saudi Arabia and China.

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Bilateral trade between India and Jordan was around $2.2 billion during 2014-15. Since 2012-13, the balance of trade was in India’s favor and they have set a target of $5 billion for 2025.  During this visit various agreements are expected to be signed including trade, investment, tourism, cultural exchanges, and intelligence and security cooperation but the areas of defence and security will remain significant. Taking advantage of Jordan’s strategic location and free trade agreements with United States, Europe and the Gulf, Indian businesses have set up units in Jordan.

 In this visit, agreements related to joint exercises, training and intelligence sharing were made and the pact signed is also likely to include capacity building, cyber security, supply and maintenance of defence equipment and hardware.

Jordan’s aspirations to keep steady ties with India can be understood mainly in an economic sphere. The Middle East is facing precarious challenges including sectarian violence, terrorism, unemployment, fragile governments and civil wars depriving people from the basic amenities of life and leading towards humanitarian disaster. India has huge economic market incentives, so Jordan is trying to collaborate with India effectively to meet all above mentioned challenges.

India’s import of oil from Middle East and Gulf countries is increasing significantly. India’s oil imports have increased by about 1.8 percent in 2017 to a record 4.37 million barrels per day (bpd) and India’s growing dependence on Middle Eastern energy has more strategic dimension.

King Abdullah II visited Pakistan in same month too, on February 8, 2018 to explore various ways to cooperate bilaterally. On the other side, India’s increased trade with Middle Eastern countries is furthering the importance of protecting sea lanes from the Middle East.

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India’s growing international trade further increases the importance of protecting sea lanes from the Middle East. India’s import of oil from Middle East and Gulf countries is increasing significantly. India’s oil imports have increased by about 1.8 percent in 2017 to a record 4.37 million barrels per day (bpd) and India’s growing dependence on Middle Eastern energy has more strategic dimension.

Since 2000, both India’s political parties; Congress and BJP administrations have stated the Middle East is strategically interrelated to South Asia and India’s maritime doctrine of 2009 states that the Gulf and Arabian Sea are vital to India’s interests, including securing choke points.


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