New Delhi: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman on Wednesday offered intelligence sharing and other cooperation with New Delhi in fighting extremism and terrorism, and hailed the historic ties between India and the Arabian Peninsula, which he said were “in our DNA”.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, the Crown Prince said Saudi Arabia was ready for political cooperation with India.
“On the issue of extremism and terrorism, which is a common concern, we want to tell India that we will cooperate in every way, including intelligence sharing,” he said.
Since we remember ourselves, we know Indian people as friends, and they are part of building Saudi Arabia in the past 70 years. With the leadership of the [Indian] president and the prime minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India.
Prince Mohammad’s visit comes days after a militant attack in Indian-administered Kashmir that involved a suicide-bombing of a security convoy, in which 40 Indian paramilitary personnel were killed.
The attack was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group.
During the press briefing, Modi said he had agreed with Saudi Arabia to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism, naval and cyber security, and said Riyadh and New Delhi were on the same page when it came to maintaining regional peace and stability.
“We are sure that it will be beneficial for both nations to strengthen our cooperation on maritime security, cyber security and counter terrorism,” Modi said, and called for a strong action plan for combating extremism so that the powers spreading violence and terror could not mislead the youth.
“It is time to convert energy partnership into strategic partnership. This is no longer just a buyer-seller relationship. I welcome Saudi investment in infrastructure,” Modi added.
Mohammad Bin Salman said he saw a potential for $100 billion (Dh367.8 billion) investment in energy, agriculture, technology, culture and social services and said the two countries would evolve a strategy for mutual gains.
Prince Mohammad also noted that “since we remember ourselves, we know Indian people as friends, and they are part of building Saudi Arabia in the past 70 years”.
These relations would improve for the sake of both countries, he told reporters.
“The two leaders discussed adding momentum to strategic dimension in various fields — from trade and investment to defence and security,” India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told Gulf News.
In an interview published in Saudi Gazette, Modi said the traditionally close relations between India and Saudi Arabia were anchored in their shared interests based on centuries-old economic and socio-cultural ties and vibrant people-to-people contacts.
“India-Saudi Arabia relations will be a factor for stability, peace and security in our region and the world,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the Saudi crown prince received a ceremonial welcome from Indian President Ram Nath Kovind at New Delhi’s imposing red sandstone presidential palace.
“Today we want to be sure that this relation is maintained and improved for the sake of both countries. With the leadership of the [Indian] president and the prime minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India,” Prince Mohammad said.
Saudi Arabia and India share views on increasing cooperation in counterterrorism and tackling cybercrimes. We are sure that it will be beneficial for both nations to strengthen our cooperation on maritime security, cyber security and counter terrorism.
India considers Saudi Arabia as a “key pillar” of its energy security.
The kingdom provides about 17 per cent of India’s crude oil and about a third of its liquefied natural gas.
Ties between India and Saudi Arabia, where millions of Indians are employed as migrant workers, have strengthened since Modi visited Riyadh in 2016 for the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with intelligence-gathering to counter money laundering and terrorism financing.
While bilateral trade totaled $27.5 billion last year, Saudi Arabia had invested $44 billion in India since 2016.