National advisors from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the US and Indian national are discussing a US proposal to link the Middle East nations through a network of railway lines using Indian expertise and connect the region to South Asia via sea lanes, reports said.
The project is one of the key initiatives the US wants to push in the Middle East as China’s influence in the region grows. The Middle East is a key part of China’s Belt and Road vision, said Axios news website.
The initiative would include connecting 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, according to Axios.
The idea for the new initiative came up during talks at another forum called I2U2, which includes the US, Israel, the UAE and India, according to sources.
White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan, during his speech on Thursday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said: “If you remember nothing else from my speech, remember I2U2, because you will be hearing more about it as we go forward,” he said.
Sullivan added the fundamental notion is to connect South Asia to the Middle East to the US “in ways that advance our economic technology and diplomacy.”
He also said a number of projects are already underway “and some new exciting steps that we’re looking forward to undertaking in the months ahead.”
Sources quoted by Indian Express newspaper said Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Sunday met his counterparts in Saudi Arabia.