Increase announced following talks between Saudi crown prince and Indian PM at G20 summit
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the G20 Summit in Osaka. Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs / AFP
Thirty thousand more Indians will be able to perform Hajj this year after Saudi Arabia agreed to increase India’s quota for the pilgrimage to 200,000 following talks between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 summit in Japan on Friday.
The Issue was discussed during bilateral talks that also covered deepening ties in trade and investment, energy security and countering terrorism, Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said.
Prince Mohammed had also invited Mr Modi to be a guest at an international conference later this year and the prime minister had accepted, Mr Gokhale said.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar described Saudi Arabia as “an invaluable strategic partner” in a tweet about Mr Modi’s meeting with Prince Mohammed at the summit venue in Osaka.
The Saudi crown prince visited India in February as part of an Asian tour. He said at the time that he expected investment opportunities worth more than $100 billion in India over the next two years and also ordered the release of 850 of the roughly 2,200 Indians held in Saudi jails as a goodwill gesture. Indians are the largest expatriate population Saudi Arabia, with an estimated 2.7 million Indians living in the kingdom.
The increase in India’s Hajj quota is the third in three years, after Saudi Arabia allotted about 35,000 additional places in 2017 and another 5,000 last year. The pilgrimage this year begins in early August.