In India, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says India-Saudi ties 'in our DNA'

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 20, 2019, 12.00 PM(IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

Saudi Arabia crown prince with President Kovind, PM Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan. Photograph:( WION )

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'Relationship between India and Arabia peninsula, which Saudi Arabia represent, about 80%, goes back thousands of year of history. Even before history is written. The relationship between India and Arabian peninsula is in our DNA."

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who is in India on a two-day visit, has said India-Saudi ties are "in our DNA" and lauded the role played by Indians in building the West Asian country. 

Speaking after the ceremonial reception at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Salman said, "The relationship between India and the Arabian peninsula, which Saudi Arabia represents, about 80%, goes back thousands of years. Even before history is written. The relationship between India and the Arabian peninsula is in our DNA."

Standing alongside President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he added, "Today we want to be sure this relation is maintained and improved for the sake of both countries. With the leadership of president and PM, I am are sure we can create good things for India and Saudi Arabia."

Highlighting the role of the Indian diaspora in building the country, the crown prince said, ''Since we remember ourselves, Indian people are friends and part of building Saudi Arabia in past 70 years. Lot of Saudis work and develop a lot of things in India for hundreds of years."

Salman will be meeting PM Modi at Hyderabad House for bilateral talks. This will be the second meeting between them in the last 3 months. 

They met last on the sidelines of G20 summit in Argentina on November 30. Both sides are expected to sign Five MoUs/ Agreements in areas of investment, tourism, housing and information and broadcasting.

Mohammed bin Salman, known famously by his initials MBS arrived in India on Tuesday evening with Modi breaking the protocol to receive him.

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).

The focus will be on terror in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack last week in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. New Delhi will be keen that Riyadh mounts pressure on its traditional ally Pakistan. With Pakistan backed terror group Jaish e Mohammad claiming responsibility for the attack, India will be hoping that Saudi Arabia comes hard on Pakistan especially by way of tightening the purse strings. 

MBS comes 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 New Delhi will prefer in the aftermath of Pulwama terror attack. 

During Crown Prince's Pakistan visit, he announced $20 billion dollar investment. Reacting to the development, sources in Delhi said, "When they invest in India, they invest in a robust economy, in Pakistan they bailout."

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 Partnership Council’ at the Ministerial level.  Bilateral trade between both the countries stood at $27.48 billion 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.

Saudi Arabia will soon be joining the International Solar Alliance initiative. The country hosts 2.7 million strong Indian community, one of the largest in west Asia, sending remittance of over $11 billion annually. Last year, Saudi Arabia increased the Indian Haj quota by 5,000, enabling 1,75,025 Indians to undertake the pilgrimage last year. India is also in touch with the west Asian country when it comes to Afghan Peace process.

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 is one of the world's largest oil producers.