The Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman was greeted with open arms to India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.
The Saudi prince landed for a 36-hour first time visit to India at Palam airport in New Delhi on February 19 from Saudi Arabia after visiting Pakistan on February 17.
PM Narendra Modi broke protocol when he received the Prince at the airport.
On Wednesday, Prince Mohammed bin Salman was walked with a Guard of Honour at the Rashtrapati Bhavan where he was received by PM Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind.
The Prince at the Rashtrapati Bhawan said, “Today we want to be sure that this relation is maintained and improved for the sake of both countries. With the leadership of President and the Prime Minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India.”
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and NSA Chief Ajit Doval met with the His Highness at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
Union Minister Sushma Swaraj had a discussion with the Saudi Arab Prince regarding trade and investment to defence and security and regional cooperation.
PM Narendra Modi also presided delegation level talks with the Prince along with Swaraj and Doval at the Hyderabad House.
PM Modi said at the delegation meet, “India and Saudi Arabia share age-old relations. Saudi Arabia is India’s most valuable strategic partner.”
The Indian PM pointed to the April 2016 Saudi Arab visit where he had met Mohammed bin Salman (then Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister) and shared India-Saudi Arabia relations dated back to thousands of years and has grown stronger over the last 50 years.
PM Modi raised the sensitive Pulwama attacks and said, “The cruel attack in Pulwama last week underlines the threat of terrorism posing danger to humanity. We agree that pressure should be put on countries supporting terrorism. It is necessary to destroy the infrastructure of terrorism by giving strong punishment to the terrorists and their supporters.”
Prince Salman who had just signed a $20 billion deal with Pakistan two days back to smoothen their relations said, “Extremism and terrorism are our common concerns. We will cooperate with you (India) in all possible ways including intelligence sharing to counter terrorism. We will work with all the countries to ensure a brighter future for the coming generations.”
India and Saudi Arab signed 5 MoUs in areas of investment, tourism, housing and information and broadcasting.
In a joint statement, PM Modi said, “Today in the 21st century, Saudi Arab is one of India’s most valuable strategic partners. It is our reliable neighbour, close friend and an important source to India’s energy security.”
The Saudi Arab country joined the International Solar Alliance to which the PM welcomed the new initiative by the gulf country to further strengthen defence cooperation.