No positive move by Pakistan, Modi to tell Saudi Prince

Vehicles drive past a billboard displaying the portrait of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ahead of his official visit to India, in New Delhi on February 19, 2019. (AFP)

Two days after Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman lauded Islamabad for its offer of talks with New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will tell him on Wednesday that India has not yet seen any “constructive approach” from Pakistan.

Mohammad bin Salman, a.k.a MbS, arrived in New Delhi late in the evening on Tuesday for a two-day tour to India. He will hold a meeting with Prime Minister at Hyderabad House on Wednesday.

Modi and MbS are likely to announce the launching of a Strategic Partnership Council. They are also likely to agree upon stepping up bilateral defence cooperation, including in the areas of joint production of military hardware and joint war drills, beginning with joint naval exercises.

As MbS, who also holds the office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, is visiting Pakistan and India, at a time when killing of 49 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in a suicide attack by Jaish-e-Mohammed escalated tension between the two neighbouring nations.

A joint statement issued after MbS's meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday reiterated the commitment of Riyadh and Islamabad to “continue combating extremism and terrorism”.

Saudi Arabia's acknowledgement and appreciation for “achievements and sacrifices” of Pakistan in the war against terrorism were not music to the ears in India. New Delhi, however, sought to play it down.

“The Kingdom has shown greater understanding of our terrorism-related concerns and also agreed to work with India in countering this global menace,” T S Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations) at the Ministry of External Affairs, said. “We appreciate (The) Kingdom’s cooperation in security and counter-terrorism areas over the years.”

MbS on Monday also praised “openness and efforts” of Khan for dialogue with India.

Sources told the DH that Prime Minister would expose the duplicity of Pakistan on the issue of engagement with India when he would host Saudi Arabian Crown Prince in the meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Wednesday.

He would convey to MbS that while Khan Government in Islamabad, on one hand, offered dialogue with New Delhi, it continued to provide safe haven to terrorist organizations, like JeM or the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, on the other, so that they could send in terrorists from Pakistan to carry out attacks in India.

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince commenced his maiden tour to Asia with a visit to Pakistan on Sunday and Monday. He returned to Riyadh after concluding his visit to Islamabad late in the afternoon on Monday, instead of flying directly to New Delhi – a move, which is intended to de-hyphenate his visits to Pakistan and India.

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