Saudi Crown Prince arrives for crucial talks

Saudi Crown Prince arrives for crucial talks

Agency News

New Delhi, Feb 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday received the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud as the latter kick starts his two-day crucial and maiden state visit to India at a time when heightened tension has surfaced between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

"India is delighted to welcome HRH Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia," Mr Modi tweeted.

"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", MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

India has asserted that notwithstanding the fact that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has made a visit to Islamabad just on the eve of his trip to India, the context of Pakistan is "irrelevant" to India-Saudi Arabia relations.

The visiting dignitary, who made a visit to Pakistan on Sunday, will have important rounds of talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Prime Minister Modi on Wednesday.

In endorsement to India's stance on cross border terrorism and as a testimony of India-Saudi Arabia friendship the issue of terrorism will be highlighted at the bilateral talks between two sides on Wednesday.

"If you see 2016 Joint Statement issued in April 2016 during Mr Modi's visit, it is very much there.

There was a clear phrase of the terrorists operating and perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states' there is no reason to feel otherwise," a source said here.

The visit of Saudi Crown Prince comes at a time when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan made a radio broadcast - "Pakistan offers full support for any investigation in Pulwama. I guarantee action on this".

Imran Khan's missive was dismissed hours later by Indian Ministry of External Affairs which in a strongly worded statement said - "We are not surprised that the Prime Minister of Pakistan refuses to acknowledge the attack on our security forces in Pulwama as an act of terrorism. Prime Minister of Pakistan has neither chosen to condemn this heinous act nor condoled with the bereaved families".

Ridiculing Khan's repeated reference to 'Naya Pakistan' in as many words, the statement said - "In this "Naya Pakistan”, Ministers of the current Government publicly share platforms with terrorists like Hafeez Saeed who have been proscribed by the United Nations".

"Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner in our extended neighbourhood. The Riyadh Declaration of 2010 had forged a Strategic Partnership between India and Saudi Arabia. Relations between India and Saudi Arabia are rooted in strong historical and civilisational links," Secretary, Economic Relations in the Ministry of External Affairs T S Tirumurti said.

"Our relations received a huge boost during the visit of Prime Minister Modi in April 2016. Since then, there has been an intensification of our engagement".

He also said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned and denounced the terrorist attack on Indian security forces in Pulwama on February 14.

The Crown Prince who arrived in Islamabad on Sunday at the start of his Asia tour - that includes first State Visit to India had returned to Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Apparently, Indian diplomats had 'reservations' over his coming to India from Islamabad.