After a $20 bn aid to foe Pakistan, Saudi Arabia to support India against terrorism

India and Saudi Arabia agreed on the need to increase “all possible pressure” on countries offering support for terrorism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday in a joint statement with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, arrived on a two-day visit to India on Tuesday night. The visit to India had been rescheduled in wake of the Pulwama terror attack in which a suicide bomber killed over 44 Central Reserve Police Force jawans. His decision to head back to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan for a day before restarting his India visit again is believed to be a mark of respect for the Indians’ sentiments after a cowardly attack on the Indian CRPF convoy by an operative of the Pak-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad.

The prime minister, breaking protocol personally welcomed Crown Prince Salman to India as he arrived in New Delhi last night, and joined President Ram Nath Kovind in greeting him this morning during a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan, where the Saudi leader inspected a guard of honour.

The Congress took aim at the Modi government on Wednesday over the warm welcome accorded to Crown Prince Salman in India. It asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi if breaking protocol to personally welcome the Saudi leader was his way of remembering the Pulwama martyrs.

Talks on Terrorism

Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India came after a trip to Pakistan, where Saudi investment agreements worth $20 billion were announced.
With Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by his side, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed to the attack in Pulwama to lay stress on the danger posed by terrorism.
Mohammed bin Salman, on his part, said extremism and terrorism were common concerns for India and Saudi Arabia and offered Saudi Arabia’s cooperation on all fronts saying that his country would work with everyone to ensure a brighter future for upcoming generations. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however, refrained from naming Pakistan which has been providing support to several terror groups included JeM of Masood Azhar.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said this week his country would “try to de-escalate tensions” between India and Pakistan and “see if there is a path forward to resolving those differences peacefully”.
Pakistan has denied responsibility for the bombing in Pulwama and threatened retaliation in the event of an attack by India, which has vowed to exact revenge.

The Ministry of External Affairs said in a press brief that “The two leaders (PM Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) condemned in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attack on Indian forces in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. They underlined the importance of comprehensive sanctioning of terrorists and their organisations by the United Nations.”

The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman raised his voice in the admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and described him as an older brother during conversations at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday.

“I admire PM Modi,” Mohammad bin Salman said at Rashtrapati Bhavan, describing the prime minister as “the elder brother” and himself as “his younger brother”.

In a brief statement, he said Indians had helped build Saudi Arabia for 70 years and were seen in the kingdom as friends.
“Today we want to be sure that this relation is maintained and improved for the sake of both countries”.

India’s trade with Saudi Arabia

As a part of this visit, talks on key areas of mutual interest-trade&inves’t, energy, defence & security, nuclear& space, civil aviation, renewables, counter-terrorism, community welfare & regional challenges between the two leaders.

5 documents were exchanged in the presence of PM Narendra Modi & HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, in areas of investment, tourism, housing and information & broadcasting.

Saudi Arabia is India’s top supplier of crude oil, but over a period of time, both the countries have expanded ties beyond energy and their governments have agreed to build a strategic partnership.

Home to more than 2.7 million Indian expatriates, the kingdom is India’s fourth-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth $28bn.

In 2017-18 alone, India’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia stood at $27.48 billion. It is ranked 15th in the country-wise foreign direct investment in India globally, second after United Arab Emirate among Arab countries.

Saudi Arabia also plans to invest heavily in India through the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund which will help in building highways, ports and other big infrastructure projects in India.

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