Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday broke protocol to receive Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Palam Airport. He was received by PM Modi with a warm hug. Mohammed bin Salman, popularly known as 'MBS', is in Delhi on a two-day visit. Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh was also present at the airport. Salman, popularly known as 'MBS', is accompanied by his ministers and a large business delegation. India is likely to strongly raise the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism with him. Mohammed bin Salman.Â
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said in Islamabad on Monday that Riyadh will try to "de-escalate" tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the deadly terror attack in Pulwama by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad.
Official sources said Saudi Arabia was no longer accepting Pakistan's narrative on Kashmir and cross border terrorism and that India will forcefully raise the issue of Pakistan's support to terror groups during delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Crown Prince on Wednesday.
They said the joint statement to be issued after talks between the two sides is likely to have a strong reference about terrorism and ways to deal with it.
Secretary, Economic Affairs in the External Affairs Ministry T S Tirumurti said both sides are expected to sign five agreements in areas of investment, tourism, housing and information and broadcasting during the Saudi leader's visit.
"We are confident that this visit will open a new chapter in India-Saudi bilateral relationship," he said.
Referring to cross border terrorism, he said, "Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned and denounced the terrorist attack on Indian security forces in Pulwama on 14 February. We appreciate Kingdom's cooperation in security and counter-terrorism areas over the years."
Official sources said there has been a "change" in the way Saudi Arabia looked at relations between India and Pakistan and that the powerful Gulf nation has a better understanding of the cross-border terrorism.
"India has been identified as one of the eight strategic partners with whom Saudi Arabia intends to deepen partnership in areas of political, security, trade and investment and culture," said Tirumurti.
"As part of this engagement, we are finalizing the setting up of 'Strategic Partnership Council' between the two countries at ministerial level. We are confident that this will give greater thrust to our strategic partnership and take forward our discussions in a focussed and action-oriented manner," he said.
The sources said the two sides are looking at joint exercise between the two navies besides significantly ramping up overall defence cooperation.