Imprisonment of Indians & Haj quota to figure at Modi-Saudi Prince talks

Imprisonment of Indians & Haj quota to figure at Modi-Saudi Prince talks

Agency News

New Delhi, Fe 20: In addition to the hardcore diplomatic issues including terror which would figure prominently at the talks between Indian and Saudi sides on Wednesday, issues of Haj quota and imprisonment of Indians in Saudi Arabia will also figure prominently.

According to official sources here on the issue of demand for enhanced quota for Haj, the government of India has given some documents to the Saudi side to deliberate and decide.

"....As you know, on this there is a process where they will look into certain indicators and documents and then decide whether quota can be increased. And we have presented certain documents to them and we will have to wait for the outcome. This is something which will be raised at the talks," the source said.

As of now, India has a quota of 1.75 lakh Haj pilgrims from India but lately about three lakh people have applied and hence India is trying to enhance the quota.

Breaking protocol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday evening received the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud as the latter arrived on his two-day crucial and maiden state visit to India.

The visit is happening at a time when there is heightened tension between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has said his country will be keen to try to de-escalate tensions between the two countries.

Sources also said issues pertaining to imprisonment of Indians in Saudi jails will also be taken up.

"We will take up this issue also. This is something we are aware of. We have consular issues and other things which we will definitely like to enhance. In fact, we have taken this up before as well," the source said.

In fact, there are different 'sets of people' from India in Saudi jails including hardened criminals and people involved in petty crimes and hence this is an important issue to be raised, sources said.

In a tweet on Tuesday evening, MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar said: "A new chapter in bilateral relations. Breaking protocol, PM Narendra Modi personally receives Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia as he arrives on his first bilateral visit to India".

Meanwhile, answering questions related to possibility of Indian investment in Saudi Arabia, a senior official said: "India is actively encouraging Indian industries to go there".

With regard energy sector, the official pointed out that in 2016 Joint Statement itself it was pointed out that - both sides should try to "transform the buyer-seller relationship in the energy-sector to one of deeper partnership focusing on investment and joint ventures in petrochemical complexes, and cooperation in joint exploration in India, Saudi Arabia and also in third countries".

The two sides have also agreed over the months to focus on areas of training and human resources development and cooperation in research and development in the energy sector.

In this regard, the two sides expressed the need for regular meetings under the umbrella of India-Saudi Arabia Ministerial Energy Dialogue, the official said.