Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signs the Visitor''s Book as Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on, at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi, on Feb 20, 2019 Photograph:( IANS )
The Saudi crown prince also appreciated PM Modi's "consistent efforts" since May 2014 including PM's "personal initiative to have friendly relations with Pakistan"
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday discussed terror and trade with Saudi Arabia's crown prince who is on a two-day India visit. The complicity of Pakistan in Pulwama attack was also underlined by both sides when Indian PM sat with Saudi Prince at Hyderabad House. Both the leaders condemned the Pulwama terror attack in strongest term and called on states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries.
Speaking at the joint press conference, PM Modi called for countries who support terror to be put under pressure. Recalling the last week's Pulwama terror attack, PM said, "attack shows the inhumane face of this scourge and threat to the world. To act effectively against terror, both agree, pressure needs to be put on countries who support terror. Need to destroy the infrastructure of terror, those who support terror. Need a common action plan against extremism."
This is the second meeting between the Indian Prime minister and Saudi Prince in the last 3 months. The last met on the sidelines of G20 summit in Argentina on 30th November.
Saudi Crown speaking about the common concerns on terror and extremism, said, "We would like every kind of cooperation with India, especially on intelligence sharing. Not only India, we will also work with countries in the region to act against the scourge to have a better future."
Briefing the reporters later Secretary ER TS Tirumurti said, "both leaders underlined the importance of comprehensive sanctioning of terrorist and their organisations by United Nations" and emphasised the early adoption of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism (CCIT) that calls for a common definition of terrorism.
Saudi Prince Laud's PM's peace efforts
Saudi crown prince appreciated PM Modi's "consistent efforts" since May 2014 including PM's "personal initiative to have friendly relations with Pakistan". Both sides agreed for the need for the "creation of conditions necessary" for the resumption of comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan.
100 Billion dollar investment in India
5 MoU were exchanged, which were, investment in India's National Investment and Infrastructure, tourism, housing, Framework Cooperation Program between Invest India and Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority & public broadcaster of both the countries. Saudi Arabia has also joined the International solar alliance, becoming the 73rd country to do so. Saudi Arabia announced an investment of $100 billion in a range of areas including energy, refining, petrochemical, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing which was welcomed by India.
People to people contact focus
Earlier in the day, the prince was given a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan and lauded role by played by Indians in building the kingdom. He said, "Since we remember ourselves, Indian people are friends and part of building Saudi Arabia in the past 70 years. A lot of Saudis work and develop a lot of things in India for hundreds of years."
PM Modi also lauded the positive role played by the Indian community in the country during press statements. The country hosts 2.7 million strong Indian community, one of the largest in west Asia, sending remittance of over US$ 11 billion annually. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has agreed to increase Haj Quota for Indians to 2 lac. India's E visa programme for Saudi Citizens is being expanded by New Delhi.
Both Riyadh and Delhi have agreed on a 2 yearly summit level meet and establishment of strategic partnership council at ministerial level between both the countries. The issue of oil prices and Indian prisoners languishing in Indian jails was also discussed.
Breaking the protocol
The Saudi Arabia's crown Mohammed bin Salman, known famously by his initials MBS arrived in India on Tuesday and was received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who broke the protocol to receive him. This was his 1st state visit to India as the Crown Prince.
Indian prime minister has in the past broken protocol for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2018), Jordan's King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein(2018), United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (2017) and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina (2015).
MBS came to India, a day after his 2-day visit to Pakistan. It is interesting to note that the Saudi prince went back to Riyadh after his Pakistan visit, and came back again to New Delhi, a development which many will see de-hyphenation by Saudi Arabia between Pakistan and India and something which New Delhi will prefer in the aftermath of Pulwama terror attack.
India is one of the eight strategic partners of Saudi Arabia with which the West Asian country intends to deepen partnership in areas of political, security, trade and investment and culture. Both countries are finalizing the setting up of ‘Strategic PartnershipCouncil’ at the Ministerial level. Bilateral trade between both the countries stood at US$ 27.48billion in the financial year 2017-18. Saudi Arabia is India's 4th largest trading partner with New Delhi get 17% of its oil imports from the country. Oil prices are something that India has been consistently raising with Saudi Arabia, an OPEC country. Saudi ARAMCO along with ADNOC of UAE in 2018 agreed to partner in Ratnagiri Refinery.India is also in touch with the west Asian country when it comes to Afghan Peace process.
Prime Minister Modi had visited Riyadh in April 2016.Saudi Arabia's King Salman had honoured him then with the "Sash of King Abdulaziz", the highest civilian decoration awarded by the West Asian country.
Crown Prince Salman is Saudi Arabia's second-most important person after the king and his designated successor. Saudi Arabia of course in one of the world's largest oil producers.