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Maiden India, Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council on cards during Modi's Riyadh visit

An MoU to establish the council is expected to be signed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit. It will comprise the foreign and commerce and industry ministers from both countries. The first Strategic Partnership Council will be held in Riyadh.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 17, 2019, 08.28 AM IST
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Modi is also expected to engage with the Saudi king and seek foreign investments in his address at the Future Investment Initiative or what is commonly known as the ‘Davos in the Desert’.
NEW DELHI: Iman Khan’s desperate bid to break Pakistan’s isolation by playing a mediator in Iran’s troubled diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and the US hasn’t yielded any immediate result as New Delhi and Riyadh gear up for a bilateral summit.

The first Indo-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council will be held in Riyadh end of October in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Mohd Bin Salman.

While the Pakistani prime minister met both the Saudi king and the crown prince in Riyadh on Tuesday to emerge a mediator to defuse crisis, the Saudi leadership did not offer any response to Khan’s suggestions.

Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir said Riyadh did not ask Islamabad to mediate and Tehran believes that the crises could be resolved with or without mediation, according to local media reports.

Khan was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari and a host of senior officials.

The Saudi leadership has reportedly been upset with Khan’s comments at the United Nations on Iran, threat of a nuclear war in South Asia, and his attempts to make Kashmir an issue for the Islamic Ummah. Reports in the Pakistani media recently claimed that Riyadh may have ordered the special flight carrying Khan to return to New York after it took off following the UN General Assembly (UNGA). He was given the special plane by Saudi Arabia to travel to New York for the summit.

An MoU to establish the council, which will elevate the strategic partnership, is expected to be signed during Modi’s visit, sources told ET. The decision to set up the council was adopted during Salman’s visit to India in February. It will comprise the foreign and commerce and industry ministers from both the countries, ET has learnt.

Modi is also expected to engage with the Saudi king and seek foreign investments in his address at the Future Investment Initiative or what is commonly known as the ‘Davos in the Desert’. The initiative is part of the crown prince’s 2030 vision to modernise the Saudi economy and he sees India, one of Riyadh’s eight strategic partners, as part of this project.

A comprehensive security dialogue between the two sides will also be launched, ET has learnt. A proposed joint naval exercise is also on the cards.

This will be Modi’s second visit to Riyadh since being voted to power in 2014. ET was first to report on the visit.

Riyadh has maintained a neutral stand on India’s decision to abrogate Article 370, expressing a tacit view that the move was internal in nature. Saudi Arabia and a few other members of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation who are currently part of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) were not party to any Pakistani plan at Geneva in the September 9-27 session to bring either an urgent debate or resolution on the Kashmir issue.
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