US eyes major railway project to link UAE, Saudi Arabia and India

saudi india rail project

American National Security Advisor met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan and India’s Ajit Doval in Riyadh

Jake Sullivan, United States National Security Advisor, met with Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Prime Minister and Crown Prince; Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE National Security Advisor and Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor of India, on Sunday in Riyadh, lending credence to a report that the three Asian countries are getting together to create a major railway network.

American news website Axios had reported that the US is discussing plans for the railway network, apparently as one of its key initiatives in the Middle East to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

White House readout said the leaders and NSA officials met “in Saudi Arabia to advance their shared vision of a more secure and prosperous Middle East region interconnected with India and the world.”

Axios, through two unnamed sources, said the major joint infrastructure project would connect the Arab countries via a network of railways that would also be connected to India via shipping lanes from ports in the region. A US official told the website that the project will be one of many topics discussed during the visit.

According to the sources, the idea for the new initiative came up during talks that were held over the last 18 months in another forum called I2U2, which includes the US, Israel, the UAE and India. President Joe Biden’s administration expanded on the idea to include Saudi Arabia.

Axios also said that its request for comments from the Indian, Emirati and Saudi embassies in Washington were not met.

Sullivan had hinted at the initiative during his speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he said: “If you remember nothing else from my speech, remember I2U2, because you will be hearing more about it as we go forward.”

On Sullivan’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the readout added: “With Crown Prince Mohammed, he reviewed significant progress in talks to further consolidate the now 15-month long truce in Yemen and welcomed ongoing UN-led efforts to bring the war to a close, as well as covering a range of other issues.

“Mr Sullivan thanked the Crown Prince for the support Saudi Arabia has provided to US citizens during the evacuation from Sudan. The four delegations agreed to maintain regular consultations and follow up on the matters discussed throughout the day.”