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Saudi prince arrives today; India to raise cross-border terrorism issue

Official sources said Saudi Arabia was no longer accepting Pakistan's narrative on Kashmir and cross border terrorism and that India will forcefully raise the issue of Pakistan's support to terrorists

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

India is likely to strongly raise the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism with Saudi Arabia's even as the two will look at further enhancing defence ties, including having a joint naval exercise, during his two-day visit here beginning Tuesday, officials and sources said.

who arrived in on Sunday at the start of his tour of has returned to on Monday, sources said. had reservations over his coming to India from Pakistan.

Ahead of the visit by the Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia's said Monday that will try to "de-escalate" tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the deadly terror attack in Pulwama by Pakistan-based

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sources said was no longer accepting Pakistan's narrative on and and that India will forcefully raise the issue of Pakistan's support to terror groups during delegation level talks between and on Wednesday.

Secretary, in the External Affairs Ministry T S said both sides are expected to sign five agreements in areas of investment, tourism, housing and information and broadcasting during the Saudi leader's visit.

"We are confident that this visit will open a new chapter in India-Saudi bilateral relationship," he said.

Referring to cross border terrorism, he said, "has strongly condemned and denounced the terrorist attack on Indian security forces in Pulwama on 14 February. We appreciate Kingdom's cooperation in security and counter terrorism areas over the years."

sources said there has been a "change" in the way Saudi Arabia looked at relations between India and Pakistan and that the powerful Gulf nation has a better understanding of the cross-border terrorism.

"India has been identified as one of the eight strategic partners with whom Saudi Arabia intends to deepen partnership in areas of political, security, trade and investment and culture," said

"As part of this engagement, we are finalizing the setting up of 'Strategic Partnership Council' between the two at ministerial level. We are confident that this will give greater thrust to our strategic partnership and take forward our discussions in a focussed and action-oriented manner," he said.

The sources said the two sides are looking at joint exercise between the two navies besides significantly ramping up overall defence cooperation.

They said Saudi Arabia has been providing India information and intelligence about various The two had inked a pact on exchange of intelligence related to money laundering and terrorism during Modi's visit to in 2016.

will be accompanied by a high-level official team as well as a large business delegation.

Modi will host a lunch in honour of the on Wednesday.

The Crown Prince will call on and he will host a banquet in honour of the visiting dignitary

During the visit of PM Modi to Saudi Arabia in 2016, an MoU on cooperation in exchange of intelligence related to money laundering and terrorism financing was signed. The Kingdom has shown greater understanding of India's terrorism-related concerns and also agreed to work with India in countering this global menace.

The two countries held meeting of 4th last month in during which both sides explored the possibility of elevating the defence engagement with joint production and joint exercises, particularly joint naval exercises, said

India's bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was USD 27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its 4th largest trading

Saudi Arabia is also a key pillar of India's security, being a source of 17 per cent or more of and 32 per cent of LPG requirements of India.

Recently, in partnership with of UAE has agreed to in and Petro-Chemical project Ltd which is a joint venture of USD 44 billion.

Indian partners are IOC, BPCL and

"We hope to transform this buyer-seller relationship in to a broad-based partnership," said Tirumurti.

He said other areas of interest for joint collaboration are fertilizers, food security, infrastructure, renewable energy, etc.

"We are also looking forward to greater collaboration in the area of civil aviation, where there is considerable potential for enhanced links, especially in the context of increasing trade, tourism and in enhancing convenience of travel," the official said.

He said Saudi Arabia has conveyed to India that it will be joining 'International Solar Alliance' initiative.

The Crown Prince is expected to travel to from India.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 18 2019. 20:40 IST