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India, Saudi Arabia to work out plan to fight terrorism
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25
The visiting King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud today held 45-minute-long one-to-one talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during which the two leaders are understood to have discussed the need for hammering out a strategy to keep a tab on the movement of terrorists and to block the availability of liberal funds to these groups.

At the end of the one-to-one talks, which were followed by delegation-level talks and signing of four agreements between the two sides,including an MOU on combating terrorism, it was apparent that the world’s biggest democracy and the biggest oil producer had decided to do away with their decades long mutual neglect and embark upon a close relationship with hints of a strategic partnership, Riyadh’s extremely close ties with Pakistan notwithstanding. New Delhi attaches a special significance to Saudi King’s visit to India. This is evident from the fact that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set aside the usual protocol to receive the Saudi King at the Airport.

There was no fixed agenda for talks between the Prime Minister and the Saudi King. However, one-to-one talks took place between the two leaders for 45 minutes which were followed by delegation-level talks and signing of agreements.

The issues of mutual interest centering around economic relationship, the current international situation particularly with reference to Iran’s nuclear issue, political instability in Iraq, developments in Indo-Pak relations and intelligence sharing on the movement of terrorists and terrorist funding were the highlights of discussions between the Indian Prime Minister and the Saudi King.

It may not be out of place to mention here that India attaches serious concern to the frequent meetings which Pakistan-based terrorist leaders hold with some Kashmiri separatists in Saudi Arabia under the pretext of Haj and Umrah. India is also concerned about the funds which such terrorist and separatist organisations in India receive from or through the Middle East.

It is an open secret in India that a sizeable portion of the funds sent by individuals from the oil rich Middle East are used in supporting fundamentalist Wahabi Institutions which are engaged in anti-India activities. King Abdullah is, however, aware of the menace of terrorism. A number of terrorist actions have been staged by Al-Qaeda in Saudi Kingdom also. Saudi Arabia is an active US partner in the fight against terrorism.

After concluding his visit to India, King Abdullah would also visit Pakistan.

King Abdullah is the first Saudi monarch to visit India in more than 50 years. The last visit by a Saudi King to India was in 1955 by the then King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz. This was followed by a visit by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India to Saudi Arabia in 1956.

India and Saudi Arabia can also join hands in the field of education to revive their centuries old close relationship in this field. India’s energy requirements in the coming decades and the Saudi investment in India also come up at the PM-King discussions. Saudi Arabia plays a significant role in keeping the oil prices under check. Saudi King is also keen to let India play an active role in projecting Islam in its true benevolent shade.

Foreign Office spokesman Navtej Sarna said in the delegation-level talks the Prime Minister underlined the importance that India attached to this visit and to India’s relations with Saudi Arabia which were deeply rooted in civilisational links and were fraught with tremendous potential of trade and economic possibilities. The Prime Minister told the King that the two countries could work together on many issues of global concern.

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