India, Saudi Arabia to join hands to fight terror; Crown Prince hints at $100 bn investment

Thursday 21st February 2019 05:31 EST

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promised cooperation in combating terrorism, saying India and Saudi Arabia agreed on the need to put pressure on countries that back terror while also offering to share intelligence with India. His reiteration came a week after the Pulwama terror attack in which Pak-based Jaish-e-Mohammad owned up responsibility for the act. While the visiting Crown Prince did not mention the Pulwama terror attack in his remarks after the bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the joint statement issued said that the “Prime Minister and His Royal Highness condemned in the strongest terms the recent terror attack on Indian security forces on 14 February 2019 at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.

The two sides also reiterated the need for concerted action by the international community against terrorism, including through early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and underlined the importance of comprehensive sanctioning of terrorists and their organisations by the UN, it said. While the reference to CCIT was there in 2016 as well, the “sanctioning of terrorists” is a new phase. Both sides called upon all countries to renounce the use of terrorism as an “instrument of state policy.” While Delhi interprets it as a reference to Pakistan, Saudis will view it from their perspective of Iran. “They also called upon all states to deny access to weapons, including missiles and drones to commit terrorist acts against other countries,” it said.

In an unusual addition, Pakistan was included in the joint statement. “His Royal Highness appreciated consistent efforts made by Prime Minister Modi since May 2014, including Prime Minister’s personal initiatives, to have friendly relations with Pakistan”, it said. And added that in this context, “both sides agreed on the need for creation of conditions necessary for resumption of the comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan”.

The joint statement also talked about “potential” investments of $100 billion in India - as compared to $20 billion in Pakistan - in energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining, manufacturing, education and health. The two sides agreed to cement the existing ‘Strategic Partnership’ with ‘high level monitoring mechanism by the creation of Strategic Partnership Council led by Prime Minister and Crown Prince, supported by ministerial representation covering the whole spectrum of strategic relationships.

After the “extensive and successful” bilateral talks, the two sides signed five pacts to expand cooperation in a range of areas, including trade and investment. The two countries also agreed to establish a biennial summit and a strategic partnership council, Modi said. “As far as terrorism and extremism are concerned – which are common concerns- I want to tell India that we will extend all cooperation to you, be it intelligence-sharing ...not only with India but also with the neighbouring countries,” Prince Salman said after discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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