The leaders of the US, India, Saudi Arabia and other countries are in talks on a possible infrastructure deal involving railroads and ports, Reuters reported on Friday citing sources. According to the agency, the talks were first reported in the American newsletter Axios.
As per the American newsletter, this new project can be the key initiative that the White House is pushing in the Middle East where China’s influence is growing and the country is a key part of Beijing’s Belt and Road vision.
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 before the 2024 campaign consumes Biden’s agenda.
According to Axios, the project is expected to connect Arab countries in the Levant and the Gulf via a network of railways that will also connect to India through seaports in the Gulf, the sources said.
The idea for this 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, according to Axios citing two sources.
The forum was established in late 2021 to discuss strategic infrastructure projects in the Middle East and to serve as a counterweight to Beijing’s growing influence in the region.
Israel raised the idea of connecting the region through railways during the I2U2 meetings over the last year. Part of the idea was to use India’s expertise on such big infrastructure projects, a source said.
The Biden administration then expanded on the idea to include Saudi Arabia’s participation, Axois reported while citing the source.