Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Seeks to Bolster Ties to India and Pakistan
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman visited India for two days, where he met with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a vast array of issues, including trade, infrastructure, and terrorism. Prince Mohammed bin Salman was in Pakistan earlier this week, and he is set to depart India for China after completing his stay in New Delhi.
Prime Minister Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind received Prince Mohammad at the airport, with Modi warmly embracing the Saudi Arabian prince. International figures are wary of the prince’s actions at the moment, ever since the controversial death of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in late 2018. India, however, did not formally take a stance on the controversy surrounding Khashoggi’s death.
Prince Mohammad returned Prime Minister Modi’s kind gestures, expressing admiration towards the Indian leader at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Indian president’s home in New Delhi. The Price went as far as describing Prime Minister Modi as his “elder brother,” and mentioning that Saudi Arabia perceives India as both a friend and partner.
On Wednesday, following one-on-one talks between Prince Mohammad and PM Modi at a joint news conference in New Delhi’s Hyderabad House, the Prince announced Saudi Arabia’s investment of $100 billion into Indian infrastructure and trade services.
Another hot topic discussed at the New Delhi news conference was terrorism. “As far as terrorism and extremism are concerned...I want to tell India that we will extend all cooperation to you…” stated Prince Mohammad at the conference.
Terrorism is one of India’s top concerns, especially in light of the February 14th attack in India-administered Kashmir, killing 40 Indian servicemen. Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistan-based Islamist group, claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing.
Pakistan has rejected “any insinuation by elements in the Indian media and government that seek to link the attack to Pakistan without investigations,” according to BBC. However, in the aftermath of the tragedy, tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated dramatically.
Last week, amidst the tension between India and Pakistan, Prince Mohammad visited Islamabad, pledging to revive Saudi Arabia’s partnership with Pakistan. Additionally, Prince Mohammed committed to investing $20 billion into Pakistan’s economy to strengthen the ties between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan prior to his visit to India.
Despite growing animosity between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince seems willing to invest in the success of both countries rather than alienating one or the other. It remains to be seen how Prince Mohammad will interact with Chinese leaders in the coming days, in the continuation of his tour of Asia.