- Barak Ravid
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Biden shake hands at the G20 in New Delhi. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images
President Biden and other G20 leaders announced on Saturday a major international infrastructure project to connect India, the Middle East and Europe with railways, shipping lines, high-speed data cables and energy pipelines.
Why it matters: The project, announced during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, is one of the key initiatives the White House has been pushing internationally to counter Beijing’s growing influence and create an alternative to China’s Belt and Road vision of which the Middle East is a key part.
- Biden said Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan will be part of the initiative, which was first reported by Axios.
- The agreement comes as the Biden administration seeks to complete its diplomatic push for a mega-deal with Saudi Arabia that could include a normalization agreement between the kingdom and Israel.
- “It’s a big deal. It’s a really big deal. This project will contribute to making the Middle East a more prosperous, stable and integrated region,” Biden said.
The big picture: Biden announced the project together with leaders of India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Commission.
- Biden said the project would create an economic corridor between India, the Middle East and the EU.
- “We will invest in railways and shipping lines from India to Europe that will be connected through Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan and Israel,” Biden said.
- The U.S. president added that the project will make it easier to trade and export, transfer clean energy and provide fast and stable internet service to the countries in the Middle East.
What they’re saying: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the kingdom will take part in the project with an investment of $20 billion and urged leaders to start the planning and implementation of the project immediately.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement called the project a groundbreaking initiative “that will reshape the region and will reshape Israel.”
- He said Israel “will be a key juncture” in the economic corridor from India to Europe through its seaports on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
- “We will harness our capacities and experience with all our commitment to contribute to this regional and international project which is the biggest in our history,” Netanyahu said.