Over the years, Saudi Arabia has developed a far better understanding of Indias position on Jammu and Kashmir and the kind of terror threat the country faced and it was evident from the Kingdom’s strong denunciation of the Pulwama terror attack, sources said on Monday.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud will arrive on a two-day visit to India on Tuesday. The visit, his first to India, was planned before the Pulwama terror attack, which escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.
The crown prince’s visit comes a day after his trip to Pakistan, whom India has linked with the attack. He is learnt to have flown back to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan in an apparent acknowledgement of India’s sensitivities.
During his visit to Islamabad, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) for bilateral cooperation worth $20 billion. The crown prince who was honoured with Pakistan’s highest civilian honour called it a country “dear” to all Saudis.
Sources said Saudi Arabia’s investments in Pakistan cannot be compared with India. Saudi Arabia was not investing in India to bail the country out, but because it was a robust economy growing at nearly 7 per cent, they added.
There has been a remarkable transformation in bilateral relationship in the last four-five years and “it is Pakistan that should be feeling insecure,” they said and added India does not see its relations with Saudi Arabia vis-a-vis Pakistan.
The 2016 joint statement, issued by the two countries following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, had “very strong” references to combating terrorism, sources said.
They said, “there was an evolution in the way they were looking at terrorism per se” and the Pakistan narrative on Kashmir was not acceptable due to far better appreciation of India’s position.
Saudi agencies had collaborated with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) recently and the cooperation on security has been “pretty active.” India was one of eight identified strategic partners by Saudi Arabia with the other Asian countries being Japan, China and South Korea, they said.
The Saudi Prince was paying visits primarily to the western countries and the focus has now shifted to the east.
Referring to defence, sources said the two countries were looking at joint naval exercises.
Indian companies are looking forward to participate in large development projects, including Smart City, Red Sea Tourism Project and Entertainment City, being undertaken by Saudi Arabia.
Discussions are being held to boost investment in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) while energy, renewable energy and fertiliser sectors are the other areas of cooperation.