–Crown prince says terrorism and extremism ‘is a common concern for Riyadh and New Delhi’
–Modi stresses need to increase all possible pressure on ‘countries supporting any type of terrorism’
–MBS expects investment worth more than $100 billion in India
–Saudi FM refuses to hold Pakistan responsible for Pulwama attack in absence of solid evidence
–Says Kingdom won’t interfere in Pak-India tensions without being invited by both countries
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Wednesday described terrorism and extremism as a common concern for Saudi Arabia and India and said that Riyadh is ready to share intelligence with New Delhi to tackle these issues.
Prince Mohammad arrived in Delhi on Tuesday night, a day after wrapping up a historical visit to Islamabad in which he signed $20 billion worth of agreements in the “first phase” of Saudi investment in Pakistan.
His visit to Pakistan came days after the Pulwama attack in Occupied Kashmir ─ which India has blamed on Pakistan and the latter has denied ─ and the subject of “cross-border terrorism” was expected to come up during his interactions with top Indian leadership on Wednesday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his joint statement issued Wednesday described the Pulwama attack as “a symbol of the anti-humanitarian threat the world is facing”, Times of India reported.
The Associated Press quoted Modi saying ─ without naming Pakistan ─ that “in order to deal effectively with this threat, we agree that there is a need to increase all possible pressure on countries supporting any type of terrorism.”
“It is the need of the hour to take appropriate action against the infrastructure of terrorism. It is very important to punish the terrorists and all their supporters,” he added.
Modi in his remarks at the media briefing referred to the attack on the Indian soldiers and said that effective steps would be taken to punish the perpetrators and their supporters without elaborating further.
“Saudi Arabia and India share views on increasing cooperation in counter-terrorism and tackling cyber crimes,” he said.
Modi also called for a strong action plan for combating extremism so that powers spreading violence and terror cannot mislead the youth, the Associated Press reported.
Prince Mohammad, in a statement following Modi’s, said that terrorism and extremism are a common threat to both Saudi Arabia and India and that Riyadh would cooperate with Delhi in every aspect, including intelligence sharing, The Indian Express reported.
“We would like to tell our friend India that we’ll cooperate on all fronts, be it intelligence sharing,” he said, vowing to “work with everyone to ensure a brighter future for our upcoming generations”.
MBS said that he saw potential for $100 billion investment in energy, agriculture, technology, culture and social services in India, and said the two countries would evolve a strategy for mutual gains.
Earlier in the day, President Ram Nath Kovind received the crown prince at the Presidential Palace in Delhi.
The prince, who was accorded a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, had said on the occasion that Riyadh wishes to maintain and improve ties with Delhi “for the sake of both countries”.
“With the leadership of the president and the prime minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India,” Prince Mohammad said, according to Asia News International.
“I admire PM Modi. He is the elder brother and I am his younger brother,” he added.
Describing Indian people as “our friends”, the crown prince had said that Indians have helped build Saudi Arabia for 70 years. “During this trip we will show few examples of work Saudi people did in India,” he said.
After the reception at the palace, Prince Mohammad held a brief meeting with Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.
He then had a meeting with Modi followed by delegation level talks.
Both countries signed five agreements in the fields of investment, tourism, cooperation in housing, a Framework Cooperation Programme to enhance bilateral relations, and cooperation in broadcasting, according to India Today.
SAUDI FM QUIETENS INDIAN JOURNALIST:
Separately, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir quietened down an Indian journalist and delivered a clear stance on the Pulwama attack.
“How can we condemn Pakistan when we don’t have the evidence before us yet?” he said in an interview to a private Indian channel.
The minister said his country follows a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism and that “anyone who supports and finances the menace must be designated and must be punished”.
Asked about rising tension between Pakistan and India following the Pulwama attack, he said Saudi Arabia believes that both countries can de-escalate and resolve issues peacefully.
“We hope tension between India and Pakistan will not escalate. You have wise leadership in both the countries represented by respective prime ministers. I believe they will be able to find a way to de-escalate,” he said.
On whether Saudi Arabia will try to mediate between the two countries, he said, “We will not involve ourselves into the tensions between Pakistan and without being invited by both the countries.”
He further said, “we have good relations with both countries and if both want us to play some kind of a role, we would consider it.”