Saudi crown Prince Salman to visit India on Tuesday

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NEW DELHI,Feb 19: Mohammed bin Salman Saudi Arabia crown prince,for the first time since taking over as the crown prince will arrive in India on Tuesday for a two day visit.

Salman’s arrival in India will be only a day after his visit to Pakistan, while Salman didn’t just announce
Investments worth $20 billion in Pakistan but also declared in Islamabad that he was going to act as an ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, India is seeking to isolate internationally for its “complicity’’ in the Pulwama attack, the government of India said on Monday that the Saudi position on not just terrorism but also on J&K had evolved to India’s advantage.

In what is unlikely to go down well with India, the Saudi-Pak joint statement even underlined the need for “avoiding politicization of UN listing regime”. This seemed aimed at India’s campaign to get JeM chief Masood Azhar banned by the UN.

The crown prince went on to praise “openness and efforts” of Pakistan PM Imran Khan for dialogue with India and the opening of the Kartarpur crossing point and the efforts exerted by both sides, stressing that “dialogue is the only way to ensure peace and stability in the region to resolve outstanding issues.”

Official sources here said though that, if anything, it was Pakistan which needed to worry about India’s growing ties with Riyadh which has seen the two countries considering enhancing defence ties and considering joint naval exercises. The government remained undeterred by reports that Salman had expressed solidarity with Pakistan in their attempts to combat terrorism, saying that it hoped the crown prince’s visit to India will help it drive home the message that Pakistan needed to check cross border terrorism.

These government sources said India had developed a relationship with Saudi Arabia independent of Riyadh’s relations with Pakistan. “The crown prince is not coming here to bail out Indian economy. India-Saudi ties have evolved and Riyadh, unlike in the past, no longer accepts Pakistan’s narrative on terrorism or even J&K,” said a source here on condition of anonymity.

The government expressed satisfaction over Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of the Pulwama terror attack and said this was another sign that Riyadh now had a much better understanding of India’s position on terrorism. The government is hoping that the joint statement to be issued after Salman’s meeting here with PM Narendra Modi will be embellished by strong references to cross-border terrorism. It recalled the 2016 India-Saudi Arabia joint statement in which the countries called on all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries and to cut off support to those perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned and denounced the terrorist attack on Indian security forces in Pulwama on 14 February. The Kingdom has shown greater understanding of our terrorism-related concerns and also agreed to work with India in countering this global menace,” said MEA  Secretary (Economic Relations) TS Tirumurti.

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