New Delhi, Asharq Al-Awsat—Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ended his state visit to India on Friday, before moving on to the Maldives to continue his tour of Asia.
The Saudi Crown Prince Salman met with a number of senior Indian officials during his visit to the country this week, including President Pranab Mukherkee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, confirming Riyadh’s strong ties with Delhi.
Saudi Arabia and India signed a number of agreements during the visit, including an important defense cooperation agreement that reportedly allows for the exchange of defense-related information and military training, as well as cooperation in security and counter-terrorism.
The Crown Prince lauded Saudi–Indian relations, describing them as being “old and historic.”
He said: “Bilateral relations have been progressing well, and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has instructed that excellent relations should be maintained with India,” adding that “the defense pact signed by Riyadh and New Delhi would help defense personnel of the two countries to work closely and learn from each other’s experiences. Both countries are vulnerable to the menace of terrorism, and India shares many security concerns with Saudi Arabia.”
A joint Saudi–Indian communiqué issued on the final day of the Crown Prince’s state visit to India highlighted the “growth of trade, investment, energy, as well as scientific, cultural and security cooperation between the two countries.”
“Both sides stressed the importance of strengthening the strategic partnership and its further development in all areas, to serve the common interests of the two countries and their peoples,” the statement said.
“The two sides agreed upon the importance of encouraging the business communities in the two countries to increase their investments and to take advantage of the existing investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia and India, especially in the fields of infrastructure and technology transfer, as also to further consolidate cooperation in the areas of skilled human resources in information technology, electronics and telecommunications,” the statement added.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs confirmed that “India and Saudi Arabia share friendly relations based on close people-to-people contacts. In recent years, there has been significant progress in bilateral cooperation in key areas of mutual interest, including energy, security, trade and infrastructure development projects.”
On his arrival in the Maldive Islands on Friday, Crown Prince Salman met with President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.