Saudi Prince Pledges to Help India Fight Terror
(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman vowed to fight terrorism alongside India after talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, days after New Delhi accused Pakistan of planning a major terror attack in Kashmir.
“Terrorism is a common concern and Saudi Arabia will cooperate with India in fighting it, including in matters like intelligence sharing,” Prince Mohammed said in a press statement alongside Modi in New Delhi.
The comments were part of the Saudi royal’s delicate diplomacy, as he visits both nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors amid heightened geopolitical tensions. India said Pakistan’s main spy agency was linked to a deadly suicide car bombing that killed 40 members of the security forces in the disputed region of Kashmir, which both India and Pakistan claim in full.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who hosted the Saudi royal earlier this week, denied that his country played any role in the attack claimed by the Pakistan-based group Jaish-e-Mohammed and said his military would retaliate if India launched any military response.
Prince Mohammed, who announced his trip before the Kashmir strike on Feb. 14, has embarked on a diplomatic tour of Asia that will eventually take him to China to meet President Xi Jinping. But in South Asia, he has walked straight into the middle of a tense dispute between the nuclear-armed rivals -- both of whom went out of their way to show the prince a lavish welcome. Pakistan’s premier Khan went as far as to personally chauffeur the prince while Modi was at the airport to receive him.
Modi said India and Saudi Arabia had agreed to pressure countries aiding terrorism and work towards destroying terrorist infrastructure. The Saudi leader said he saw $100 billion worth of potential investments in India but did not give any details.
In a joint statement issued in Islamabad earlier this week, Saudi Arabia "underlined the need for avoiding politicization" of the United Nations listing regime -- a veiled reference to India’s efforts to have Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, who lives in Pakistan, designated as a global terrorist. China has blocked this motion at the U.N. The crown prince also pledged $20 billion of investments.
However, Modi did not seem particularly put out. He traveled to the airport and hugged Prince Mohammed after the royal descended from the steps of his aircraft.
A lawmaker from India’s main opposition Congress party criticized Modi’s "hugplomacy" because of Prince Mohammed’s investment pledges in Pakistan and praise for Islamabad’s anti-terrorism activities.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.