Global leaders announced, Saturday, a railway and port agreement that includes several countries and connects the Middle East and South Asia, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi.

The agreement comes at a sensitive time when US President Joe Biden seeks to confront China’s Belt and Road global infrastructure initiative by offering Washington an alternative partner and investor to developing countries in the G20.

Biden said it was a real big deal that would connect ports across two continents and lead to a more stable, prosperous, and integrated Middle East.

He added during an event to announce the agreement that it would provide endless opportunities for clean energy, clean electricity, and laying cables to connect communities.

US Deputy National Security Advisor John Viner told reporters during the group’s annual summit in New Delhi that the agreement would benefit low- and middle-income countries in the region and allow the Middle East to play a decisive role in global trade.

US officials say that the project aims to connect Middle Eastern countries through railways and to India through ports, which will help the flow of energy exports and trade from the Gulf to Europe, by reducing shipping times and costs and the use of fuel.

Viner said that a memorandum of understanding on the agreement is scheduled to be signed by the European Union, India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the United States and other G20 partners.

“We believe that linking these important areas is a tremendous opportunity,” he added.

This move comes in light of US efforts for a broader diplomatic agreement in the Middle East that would see Saudi Arabia recognize Israel.

Viner added that from the US perspective, the agreement helps reduce tensions across the region and deal with conflict where we see it.

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