India and Saudi Arabia sign extradition treaty
India and Saudi Arabia have vowed to jointly combat terrorism and money laundering as they signed an Extradition Treaty and several agreements to raise their cooperation to a strategic partnership covering security, economic, energy and defence areas.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Saudi King Abdullah who held wide-ranging discussions here last night, signed the Riyadh Declaration outlining the contours of a new era of strategic partnership between the two countries.
After the unprecedented welcome on Saturday when the entire Saudi Cabinet was present to receive him at the airport on his arrival, Singh was accorded a grand reception at the imposing Al Rawadah Palace.
King Abdullah received the Prime Minister and participated in the whole welcome ceremony, a rare honour bestowed on visiting dignitaries. Both sides emphasised the importance of strengthening the strategic energy partnership in line with the Delhi Declaration of 2006, including meeting India's increasing requirement of crude oil supplies and identifying areas of new and renewable energy. India invited Saudi Arabia to participate in crude storage facilities in the country.
The Extradition Treaty, signed by Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Prince Naif bib Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, further enhances existing security cooperation and will help in apprehending wanted persons in each other's country, Vijaya Latha Reddy, Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry, told reporters here.
Besides this, four other agreements were inked in the presence of the two leaders. These are relating to transfer of sentenced persons, cultural cooperation, Memorandum of Understanding between Indian Space Research Organisation and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology for cooperation in peaceful use of outer space and joint research and information technology.
Four other agreements were signed yesterday, including one by Tata Motors to supply school buses worth USD 80 million. The six-page Declaration said keeping in view the development of relations between the two countries, and the potential for their further growth, the two leaders decided to raise their cooperation to a strategic partnership covering security, economic, defence and political areas.
The two leaders agreed to continue strengthening defence cooperation in a way that realises the common interests of Saudi Arabia and India. Both Singh and King Abdullah discussed the peace process in the Middle East and reviewed the ongoing efforts.
They hoped there would be early resumption of the peace process in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Plan with a view to address all key issues of the dispute comprehensively and within a definite time-frame leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestinian state.
The two leaders emphasised that continued building of settlements by Israel constitutes a fundamental stumbling block for the peace process. The Declaration said Singh and King Abdullah reiterated their support for the ongoing international efforts to resolve the issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme peacefully through dialogue.
They asked Iran to respond to these efforts in order to remove regional and international doubts about its nuclear programme. This was especially so as these efforts ensure the right of Iran and other countries to peaceful uses of nuclear energy according to the yardsticks and procedures of the IAEA and under its supervision.
The situation in Afghanistan figured in the talks and the two leaders called for preservation of the country's sovereignty and independence. They supported the efforts of the Afghan people to achieve stability and security, protected from exploitation by the terrorist organisations.