Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday received a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi.
After meeting President Ram Nath Kovind, the Saudi Arabia Crown Prince said, “Today we want to be sure that this relation is maintained and improved for the sake of both countries. With the leadership of the President and the Prime Minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India”.
Earlier on Tuesday, in a special gesture, Prime Minister Narendra Modi received at the Delhi airport Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, signifying importance India attaches to the visit by the leader of the powerful Gulf nation.
In a tweet, Modi said India is “delighted to welcome” the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
After Salman’s arrival, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, “A new chapter in bilateral relations. Breaking protocol, PM @narendramodi personally receives HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia as he arrives on his first bilateral visit to India!”
The Crown Prince arrived in Delhi on a less than 30-hour visit, a day after concluding his high-profile tour of Pakistan where he said dialogue was the only way to resolve “outstanding issues” between India and Pakistan.
PM Modi and Salman will hold extensive talks on Wednesday during which India is likely to strongly raise the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
According a warm welcome, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday not only received the Crown Prince at the airport in Islamabad but also drove him to PM house.
His visit comes in the backdrop of the escalating tension between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror group in which at least 44 CRPF personnel were killed.
Official sources had said that Saudi Arabia was no longer accepting Pakistan’s narrative on Kashmir and cross border terrorism and that India will forcefully raise the issue of Pakistan’s support to terror groups during delegation-level talks between PM Modi and the Crown Prince.
They said the joint statement to be issued after talks between the two sides is likely to have a strong reference about terrorism and ways to deal with it.
Official sources said there has been a “change” in the way Saudi Arabia looked at relations between India and Pakistan and that the powerful Gulf nation has a better understanding of the cross-border terrorism.
The sources said the two sides are looking at joint exercise between the two navies besides significantly ramping up overall defence cooperation.
India’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was USD 27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner.
Saudi Arabia is also a key pillar of India’s energy security, being a source of 17 per cent or more of crude oil and 32 per cent of LPG requirements of India.
Recently, Saudi ARAMCO in partnership with ADNOC of UAE has agreed to partner in Ratnagiri Refinery and Petro-Chemical project Ltd which is a joint venture of USD 44 billion. Indian partners are IOC, BPCL and HPCL.
The Crown Prince is expected to travel to China from India.
(With agency inputs)