‘Saudi Arabia recognises India’s position on Kashmir, concerns on terror’

New Delhi: The joint statement issued during the visit of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was a very clear recognition of India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir and shows a great deal of sensitivity to India’s concerns on terrorism, sources said here on Thursday.

They said the two-day visit of the Crown Prince that concluded on Wednesday has given tremendous structure to the strategic partnership, built on the solid foundation of the relationship and considerably broadened the relations.

The visit also saw a strong thrust to the Saudi investment and $100 billion has been earmarked for investment opportunities reflecting a strong confidence in India’s growth story, according to the sources.

On the joint statement issued late Wednesday referring to the need for creating necessary conditions for resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan, they said Saudi Arabia acknowledged that conditions have to be created for resumption of dialogue with Pakistan and displayed understanding of India’s stand that terror and talks cannot go together.

They said there was recognition that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. There was also an acknowledgement of threats India is facing in terms of terror.

The joint statement issued also said that the Crown Prince appreciated consistent efforts made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi since May 2014, including his personal initiatives, to have friendly relations with Pakistan.

There was recognition that the Prime Minister had reached out to the western neighbour but acts of friendship were thwarted by acts of terror.

The sources said that Strategic Partnership Council, to be chaired by Prime Minister and the Crown Prince, would have two to three ministerial groups looking at specific areas such as defence and security, and economy, trade and investment.

The proposed joint naval exercise could take place in 2019 and could be later extended to Army and Air Force.

On Saudi investments in India, they said it would cover a wide area including infrastructure, refining, petrochemicals, engineering, minerals, tourism and manufacturing.

In all, 11 MoUs were signed in the meeting of business council which was attended by nearly 50 Saudi entities.

They said that security was identified as a major area of cooperation keeping in mind common threats faced by the two countries.

The statement said that the two sides agreed to constitute a “Comprehensive Security Dialogue” at the level of National Security Advisors and set up a Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism to enhance further cooperation in the counter-terrorism efforts and benefit mutually from real-time intelligence sharing.

It said that the two sides agreed to work together with other Indian Ocean Rim countries for enhancing maritime security.

The sources said that Saudi Arabia has also been sensitive to India’s request on prices of crude and has also agreed to requests for release of prisoners and increasing the quota of Haj pilgrims.

It has been sensitive to the predicament of Indians stranded due to closure of a foreign company, they added.