India, Bahrain vow to deepen cooperation in oil and gas sector

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New Delhi, Apr 7 (PTI) India and Bahrain on Wednesday agreed to deepen cooperation in key areas such as the oil and gas sector, health and defence, while also vowing to step up bilateral trade and investment.

The two countries resolved to further strengthen ties during the 3rd India-Bahrain High Joint Commission (HJC) here that was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and visiting Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.

During the HJC, both ministers reviewed all areas of bilateral cooperation and expressed happiness at the progress made in the past few years, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

They recalled the landmark visits of the King of Bahrain to India in 2014 and of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bahrain in 2019.

The two countries agreed to further develop their cooperation in the areas of oil and gas, trade and investment, health, food security, defence, security, renewable energy, education, culture and digital technologies, the MEA said.

Both sides also looked forward to celebrating the golden jubilee of the establishment of their diplomatic relations this year, it said.

Jaishankar reiterated the invitation to the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, to visit India at an early date.

Zayani also handed over a letter to Jaishankar from the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain addressed to Prime Minister Modi.

Zayani also called on Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu. During the meeting, Naidu conveyed thanks on behalf of India to Bahrain's King for taking excellent care of the Indian community including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bahraini foreign minister appreciated the contribution of the Indian community to the progress and development of Bahrain and also thanked India for supplying Covishield vaccine to Bahrain, the statement said.

'Co-chaired the third High Joint Commission. Agreed to expand our cooperation in energy, infrastructure, health, defence & digital. Exchanged assessments on the regional situation. Reaffirmed our close & long-standing partnership,' Jaishankar tweeted after the talks.

According to the MEA, Jaishankar also congratulated Bahrain on taking over as the Chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council and looked forward to working with Bahrain to strengthen the India-GCC partnership.

Both ministers also discussed regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest, the MEA said.

India looks forward to early deposition of Instrument of Ratification of ISA Framework Agreement by Bahrain, it said.

A joint statement issued after the meeting said the Bahraini side appreciated India for keeping open for Bahrain the supply chains of essential items including food and medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It particularly thanked India for gifting 100,000 doses of 'made in India' COVID vaccine to Bahrain, the joint statement said.

'The two sides discussed ways and means to expand cooperation in a range of fields including oil and gas, infrastructure, investments, food processing, health, renewable energy, IT, data centres, cloud computing, space, tourism, education, culture, youth and sports,' it said.

The Bahraini side renewed its desire to strengthen cooperation in tax matters and to develop economic, commercial and investment opportunities between the two friendly countries.

While expressing satisfaction over the current bilateral trade and investment ties, both sides reaffirmed that there remains significant untapped potential.

Both sides stressed the importance of business and industry in taking forward the economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries.

In this context, they looked forward to the early convening of a B2B meeting of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

'Energy remains a principal area of cooperation between India and Bahrain. Both sides underlined that there are several areas of further cooperation between the two sides in both upstream and downstream sectors of oil and gas in Bahrain,' the joint statement said. PTI ASK DIV DIV