Terrorism and extremism are “common concerns” and Saudi Arabia will extend all cooperation to India and other countries in the region to deal with them, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Wednesday after holding extensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While the two leaders in their respective press statements after their meeting did not mention Pakistan, top officials in the Ministry of External Affairs later said Pakistan’s complicity in the Pulwama terror strike was underlined during their parleys where they also condemned the terrorist attack by the Pakistan-based JeM in “strongest” possible terms.
The meeting took place two days after the influential Arab leader concluded a high profile visit to Islamabad, and in the backdrop of escalating tension between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed by a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber.
In his statement, Modi called the attack a “cruel symbol” of the scourge of terrorism and sought punishment for terrorists and their backers. The crown prince, however, did not mention the Pulwama strike in his remarks.
Asserting that a close contact between people of Saudi and India was a “living bridge” for the two countries, Modi also welcomed the Crown Prince’s announcement of potential investment of USD 100 billion in India in areas like energy, refining, petro-chemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing etc.
Briefing reporters on the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit and issues discussed during his meeting with Modi, T S Tirumurti, Secretary (ER) in Ministry of External Affairs said they also underlined the importance of comprehensive sanctioning of not just terror organisations, but also terrorists by the United Nations, in an apparent reference to New Delhi’s demand for JeM head Massod Azhar’s listing by the global body.
The reference to the listing issue assumes significance as in a joint statement, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Monday called for avoiding “politicisation” of the UN listing regime, at a time India is stepping up efforts to brand the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group’s chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist.
In an interview to PTI, Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir on Wednesday said any terrorist or anyone who supports and finances terrorism must be proscribed by the United Nations. He rejected suggestions that Riyadh was opposed to India’s efforts to get Azhar banned by the global body.
Modi and the Crown Prince during their talks also called for concerted action by the international community against terrorism and early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, Tirumurti said.
He said the Crown Prince lauded Modi for the “consistent efforts” made by him since May 2014, including Modi’s personal initiatives, to have friendly relations with Pakistan. “In this context, both sides agreed on the need for creation of conditions necessary resumption of the comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan,” Tirumurti said.
Referring to Pulwama attack, Modi said, “last week’s barbaric Pulwama attack was a symbol of the shadow of the inhuman danger hovering over the world. To deal with the scourge, we have agreed that there was a need to ramp up pressure on countries extending any sort of support to terrorism.”
He said dismantling terror infrastructure, eliminating support to terrorism and punishing terrorists and their supporters are very necessary, adding that the two countries have also agreed to establish a biennial summit and a strategic partnership council.
On his part, the Crown Prince said,”As far as terrorism and extremism are concerned — which are common concerns — I want to tell India that we will extend all cooperation to you — be it intelligence sharing…Not only with India but also with countries around us.”
“We will work together so that we can ensure a bright future for the generations to come,” he added.
On the Saudi-Pakistan statement calling for avoiding “politicisation” of the UN listing regime, Tirumurti said the Saudi side agreed that “comprehensive sanctioning not only of terror organisations, but also the terrorists by the UN”.
“So, it is both because we have had a couple of anomalies and that is why it was important for us to emphasise the fact that it is not just the terrorist organisation, it is also important that terrorists in that organisation are sanctioned,” he said.
“The two leaders condemned in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attack on Indian forces in Pulwama in J&K. They expressed strong condemnation of terrorism, and all its forms and manifestations,” he said.
They also called on states to reject the use of terrorism against each other, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, cut of any kind of support and financing for terrorists from all territories against other states, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice, he said.
Both leaders also called upon all countries to reject the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy and deny access to weapons to commit terrorist acts against other countries, he added.
To enhance further cooperation in counter terrorism efforts and benefit mutually from real-time intelligence sharing, the two leaders agreed to constitute a comprehensive security dialogue at the level of national security advisors and set up a joint working group on counter terrorism.
The two sides also inked five pacts to expand cooperation in a range of areas, including trade and investment. PTI