In a big diplomatic success, India on Wednesday received Saudi Arabia’s support in its fight against terror after visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman condemned the Pulwama terror attack in “the strongest terms”.
Though the Crown Prince avoided mentioning Pulwama terror attack during his joint press conference with PM Modi after the bilateral talks between the two sides, a joint statement issued late Wednesday evening said that PM Modi and the crown prince condemned the attack in “the strongest terms” and affirmed that the menace of extremism and terrorism threatens all nations and societies.
“The Prime Minister and His Royal Highness condemned in the strongest terms, the recent terrorist attack on Indian security forces on 14 February, 2019 in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir,” the joint statement said.
The joint statement further added that in order to enhance further cooperation in the Counter-terrorism efforts and benefit mutually from real-time intelligence sharing, 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.
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.
During the talks, the two sides vowed to take economic cooperation to new heights with the statement, saying that Modi welcomed the crown prince’s announcement “to invest in the areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining, manufacturing, education and health, potentially worth in excess of USD 100 billion”.
The Modi-crown prince 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.
The two sides rejected any attempt to link this universal phenomenon to any particular race, religion or culture, the statement said.
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 Masood 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 designate the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group’s chief 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.
The crown prince lauded Modi for the “consistent efforts” made by him since May 2014, including the prime minister’s personal initiatives, to have friendly relations with Pakistan. “In this context, both sides agreed on the need for creation of conditions necessary for the resumption of the comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan,” Tirumurti said.
Referring to the Pulwama attack, Modi, in his press statement, 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 is 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.”
Both sides called on all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructure, cut off any kind of support and financing to the terrorists perpetrating terrorism against other states, and bring perpetrators of acts of terrorism to justice, the statement said.
To enhance cooperation in the counter-terrorism efforts and benefit mutually from real-time intelligence sharing, 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.
The statement, however, did not name any terror groups.
The two sides also inked five pacts to expand cooperation in a range of areas, including trade and investment.
The two sides expressed satisfaction at the first Joint Venture West Coast Refinery and Petrochemical Project estimated to cost USD 44 billion and they agreed to expedite the implementation of the venture which will be the “largest green field refinery in the world” to be implemented in one phase.
In addition, USD 10 billion through the public investment fund and its technology partners, and other investments opportunities potentially worth USD 26 billion were being explored, it said.
(With PTI inputs)