India and Saudi Arabia on Sunday decided to ramp up their counter-terrorism cooperation as they asked all states to dismantle terror infrastructures ‘where they happen to exist’ and reject the use of terrorism against other countries, seen as an oblique reference to Pakistan.
The assertion was made by the two countries after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wide-ranging talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and delegation-level parleys between the two sides following which five agreements were signed.
The two countries also called on states to cut off any kind of support and financing to terrorists operating and perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states and bring perpetrators of acts of terrorism to justice.
The pacts signed included one on cooperation in the exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, terror financing and related crimes and another relating to recruitment of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia, home to around three million Indian workers.
In the talks, the Indian side indicated to Saudis that India is facing attacks from terror infrastructure in Pakistan as both sides decided to enhance their counter-terrorism cooperation.
The two sides deliberated on enhancing trade and investment ties, particularly in energy and infrastructure sectors.
Saudi Arabia is a close ally of Pakistan and its strong denouncement of terror is seen as very significant.
An official quoted Prime Minister Modi as saying that the outcome of the talks had turned a ‘new leaf’ in bilateral ties.
A joint statement issued after the talks between Modi and King Salman, both at restricted format and delegation level, said the two leaders rejected totally any attempt to link terrorism to any particular race, religion or culture.
‘They called on all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries; dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they happen to exist and to cut off any kind of support and financing to the terrorists operating and perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states; and bring perpetrators of acts of terrorism to justice,’ the statement said.
‘The two leaders agreed to further strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism, both at the bilateral level and within the multilateral system of the UN. The two leaders called upon the international community to strengthen multilateral regimes to effectively address the challenges posed by terrorism,’ it said.
The statement said the two sides agreed to work together towards the adoption of India’s proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations.
The prime minister lauded the Kingdom’s efforts in fighting terrorism in all aspects and its active participation in international efforts towards this end.
The Indian side was briefed on Saudi Arabia’s initiative in bringing together the Islamic Alliance against terrorism.
Modi and King Salman expressed strong condemnation of the phenomenon of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, irrespective of who the perpetrators were and of their motivations.
Amar Sinha, secretary, economic relations, in the external affairs ministry, said both sides “looked at individuals” involved in terror activities as well as financing, indicating that Riyadh was really serious in dealing with the menace.
He said the two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, intelligence sharing and capacity-building and to strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug-trafficking and other transnational crimes.
The two sides also agreed to take action against illegal transfer of money. Sinha said the pact on cooperation in exchange of intelligence related to money laundering and terror financing was a major step.
Modi and the King also emphasised on the need to further cement bilateral strategic engagement, including in the areas of security and defence cooperation.
They agreed to intensify bilateral defence cooperation, conduct of joint military exercises, exchange of visits of ships and aircrafts and supply of arms and ammunition and their joint development.
In the talks, the two sides also agreed to promote cooperation in cyber security, including prevention of use of cyber space for terrorism, radicalisation and for disturbing social harmony.
“The two leaders directed their relevant agencies to coordinate efforts to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred, perpetrating and justifying terrorism for pursuing political aims,” the joint statement said.
On energy security, the two leaders agreed to transform the buyer-seller relationship in the energy-sector to one of deeper partnership focusing on investment and joint ventures in petrochemical complexes and cooperation in joint exploration in India, Saudi Arabia and in third countries.
The Saudi side expressed its interest in investing in infrastructure development in India, especially in priority areas such as railways, roads, ports, and shipping.
Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman also called on Modi after the talks.
Acknowledging the ongoing “positive transformation” of the economies of India and Saudi Arabia, the two leaders also agreed to expand trade and investment ties to drive the strategic engagement forward.
Another pact was signed for Investment Promotion Cooperation between Invest India and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority as the two sides were keen on deeper trade and economic ties.
Two other pacts were also signed, one on technical cooperation programme between the Bureau of Standards of both countries and another on cooperation in the field of handicrafts.
Earlier, Modi was accorded a warm ceremonial welcome as the entire Saudi cabinet including the Crown Prince and the Deputy Crown Prince were present at the Royal Court.
The King also hosted a lunch for the prime minister where a lavish spread was laid.
Recognising the vibrant people to people contacts that provided strong bonds between the two countries, the two leaders lauded the valuable role of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia and its contribution to the progress and development of both India and Saudi Arabia.
The two sides also discussed the situation in Syria and the Indian side favoured a peaceful solution to the problem through dialogue.
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi receiving the Guard of Honour at the official welcome ceremony at the Royal Court, in Riyadh. Photograph: PIB