Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, after visiting Pakistan, arrived in India on Tuesday.
The crown prince was received at the airport by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, signifying the importance India attaches to the visit by the leader of the powerful Gulf nation.
In a tweet, PM Modi said that India is “delighted to welcome” the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
The visit comes a day after Riyadh signed a joint statement with Islamabad, where they said there was a need to avoid “politicisation of the UN listing regime” – an apparent reference to India’s efforts to list Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”.
According to sources, “cross-border terrorism” is expected to dominate the conversation between the two leaders during the Mohammad bin Salman’s one-day visit in the country.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, the crown prince reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
After the welcome ceremony, Salman said, “Today we want to be sure that this relationship is maintained and improved for the sake of both countries.”
“With the leadership of the President and the PM, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India,” he added
Prince Salman called for a common planning between India and Saudi Arabia to tackle various issues. “PM Modi visited Saudi Arabia in 2016 and we have achieved success in these years. We have invested around USD 44 billion in India,” said the Saudi Prince.
Prior to joint statement, both the nations confirmed the signing of 5 Memorandum of Understanding agreements, including infrastructure, housing, cooperation on broadcasting and the enhancing bilateral investment relations.
Earlier Kicking off a tour of Asia with a visit to Pakistan this week, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, held separate meetings with Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, and the country’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, endorsing the country’s two levers of power.
Pakistani security officials gave glowing reviews of the trip, which they said was an important opportunity to strengthen military ties with Saudi Arabia, a relationship that has come under strain in recent years.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has also pledged $20 billion worth of investments in Pakistan to shore up the country’s struggling economy while strengthening bilateral ties at a time when Islamabad is trying to revive its global standing.
The pledges made Sunday evening about double what had been expected would also help Saudi Arabia’s economy by setting up infrastructure, including an oil refinery, to secure Pakistan as a market for Saudi crude oil. The promised investments are nonbinding, however, and whether they will materialize remains to be seen. Riyadh has a long history of over-promising to please allies.
Pakistan is facing a really great future today, with a great leadership,” Prince Mohammed said, noting that the visit was his first trip east since becoming crown prince, and that Pakistan was the first stop on his itinerary. “We believe Pakistan is going to be a very, very important country in the coming future, and we want to be sure that we are part of that.”
As a gesture of good will, Saudi Arabia said it would release some 2,100 Pakistanis in prisons across the kingdom. The issue is a sensitive one: Thousands of Pakistanis employed in Saudi Arabia are often denied due process in the country’s justice system, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch.