Less than 48 hours after crucial visit to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is visiting India amid ongoing tension over the Pulwama terror attack. All eyes were on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Crown Prince’s joint press conference at New Delhi Hyderabad House. In what can be called a diplomatic defeat for India, the Crown Prince remained mum on the February 14 terror attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir.
While the Crown Prince praised India’s IT prowess and hailed the $44 billion dollar pacts, he said zero words on the dastardly attack. However, he did say that terrorism and extremism are common concerns for both countries. He also assured that intelligence support in her fight against extremism. “We'll work with everyone to ensure a brighter future for our upcoming generations,” the Crown Prince said.
Meeting in the shadow of the attack, PM Modi made it clear to not only mention the attack but also talk about a need to form an alliance to dismantle forces working for terror outfits. Without naming Pakistan, PM Modi said that both India and Saudi Arabia have agreed to fight such forces.
During the visit of PM Modi to Saudi Arabia in 2016, an MoU on cooperation in exchange of intelligence related to money laundering and terrorism financing was signed. The Kingdom has shown greater understanding of India’s terrorism-related concerns and also agreed to work with India in countering this global menace. The two countries held meeting of 4th Joint Defence Cooperation Committee last month in Riyadh during which both sides explored the possibility of elevating the defence engagement with joint production and joint exercises, particularly joint naval exercises, said Tirumurti.
India’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was $27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its 4th largest trading partner. Saudi Arabia is also a key pillar of India’s energy security, being a source of 17 per cent or more of crude oil and 32 per cent of LPG requirements of India.
Recently, Saudi ARAMCO in partnership with ADNOC of UAE has agreed to partner in Ratnagiri Refinery and Petro-Chemical project Ltd which is a joint venture of USD 44 billion. Indian partners are IOC, BPCL and HPCL.
(With agency inputs)