Saudi oil minister calls on Indian prime minister

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, January 5:

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali Al Naimi, who is in Indian capital to participate in the first roundtable of Asian oil buyers and sellers, called on Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh at noon today.Saudi Arabia’s ambassador Saleh Mohammed Al-Ghamdi accompanied Al Naimi during the 45-minute talks, which comes against the backdrop of India’s efforts to find ways to ensure energy security. India imports 70 per cent of its oil needs. Al Naimi also delivered a message on behalf of his government to Manmohan Singh expressing sympathy for the large-scale destruction and casualty after the tsunami disaster of December 26, officials said. Ahead of the daylong roundtable tomorrow, Al Naimi will also hold bilateral talks with India’s petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and his counterparts from the UAE, Qatar and Japan, among others. A major supplier of crude oil to India, Saudi Arabia is one of the countries where New Delhi is seeking energy assets to secure assured supplies through long-term contracts and exploration activities. Four principal buyers — China, South Korea, Japan and host India — are expected to focus on issues like supplies, long-term contracts, technology transfer and investment cooperation during the roundtable.

The major West Asian oil producers participating at the roundtable include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Oman, the UAE and Kuwait, along with Malaysia. The Indonesian oil minister cancelled his trip in view of the tsunami disaster. “It is a historic forum where all significant buyers and sellers would be meeting,” Aiyar said ahead of the roundtable, “There is no set agenda for the roundtable but it is a forum for exchange of views. The conclusion, if any, would be known at the close of the roundtable.”