In a significant diplomatic development, leaders from the United States, India, Saudi Arabia, and other nations are actively engaged in discussions regarding a potential infrastructure deal encompassing railways and ports, according to sources cited by Reuters.
Initial reports about these talks were first featured in the American newsletter Axios. This ambitious initiative could prove pivotal as the White House intensifies its efforts in the Middle East, where China’s influence has been steadily increasing. It aligns with China’s Belt and Road vision, making it a strategic focus for the Biden administration.
The Biden administration is actively working to finalize a substantial agreement with Saudi Arabia, which could potentially include a groundbreaking normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, all before the 2024 campaign season takes center stage and consumes President Biden’s agenda.
As reported by Axios, this project’s core objective is to establish a comprehensive network of railways connecting Arab nations in the Levant and the Gulf. Additionally, these railways will be linked to Indian seaports in the Gulf region, marking a significant step in fostering regional connectivity and economic cooperation.
The genesis of this visionary initiative can be traced back to discussions held over the past 18 months within a forum known as I2U2. This forum comprises key players, including the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and India. Its primary mission is to explore and facilitate strategic infrastructure projects in the Middle East while serving as a counterbalance to China’s expanding presence in the region.
During these I2U2 meetings conducted over the past year, Israel introduced the concept of uniting the region through an extensive railway network. Part of this concept involves tapping into India’s expertise in managing large-scale infrastructure projects, a concept that resonated positively among the participants.
Subsequently, the Biden administration embraced and expanded upon this idea, extending an invitation to Saudi Arabia to participate in this transformative initiative. This move not only underscores the importance of regional cooperation but also signals a concerted effort to address the evolving geopolitical landscape in the Middle East.