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As Saudi crown prince visits India, Pak's terror support to be a focus

File photo of PM Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. (Image was tweeted by PM Modi). Photograph:( Twitter )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 18, 2019, 09.16 AM (IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

Pakistan's support of terror and its involvement in the Pulwama attack last week will be a focus of discussion over Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman's two-day visit to India starting Tuesday, government sources told WION. 

The prince will be coming to Delhi after visiting Pakistan, where he has announced investments of $20 billion. Saudi Arabia had last year given Pakistan a $6 billion bailout.

India is hoping that Saudi Arabia will curtail its funding to Pakistan should it not rein its support for terror groups based on its soil

During his visit, Salman will call on President Ram Nath Kovind and have bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi. This will be the second meet between Modi and the prince in a span of three months. They last met on November 29 in Argentina on the sidelines of the G20 summit. 

"One the issues which could come up for discussion are trade and investment, defence, security including counter-terrorism is another. Renewable energy which is something that is coming up as an important area of cooperation," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said in his briefing last week.

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. 

Saudi Arabia is India's fourth-largest trading partner after China, the US and Japan. India imports 17 per cent of its crude oil requirement from the kingdom. Bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia stood at $27.48 billion in 2017-18, a year-on-year increase of 9.56 per cent. 

"The objective is to consolidate the strategic partnership which we have with the country," Raveesh Kumar had added. 

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.

In April 2018, Saudi Aramco, the largest company in the world by revenue, signed an MoU with an Indian consortium of IOC, HPCL and BPCL to acquire a 50 per cent stake in India’s largest refinery project. Saudi Aramco paid $44 billion for its stake in Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Limited.  

A 2.7 million-strong Indian community lives in Saudi Arabia.

The Haj pilgrimage is an important component of the bilateral relations between the two countries. In 2018, Riyadh increased the Indian Haj quota by 5,000, enabling 1,75,025 Indians to undertake the pilgrimage last year.

Story highlights

Crown Prince Salman will call on President Ram Nath Kovind and have bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This will be the second time Modi and the prince will be meeting within a span of three months.