NEW DELHI: India and Saudi Arabia built on a strategic partnership to take big strides together in fighting terrorism, ramping up security and intelligence cooperation after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi King Salman committed to fighting the scourge together. In addition, Modi invited Saudi businessmen to invest in India, and opened the door for more Indian companies to operate in the desert kingdom.
Appreciating the work of Saudi Arabia against terror, PM Modi said governments across the world should enhance cooperation in intelligence sharing, law enforcement, developing best practices and technologies as well as in extradition arrangements and capacity-building. “India has adopted a comprehensive approach through dealing with its individual elements, including controlling the spread of extremist ideology, plugging financing routes, building a counter narrative to radicalisation through efforts to stem training and recruitment by terrorists,” Modi said.
In a statement to local media later, Modi said, “Segmented and partial approaches to counter the menace will not be effective,” adding there was a need to “de-link” religion from terrorism. There can be no distinction between “good” or “bad” terrorism, Modi said. “No caste, colour, creed or religion,” he added. The unspoken reference to Pakistan was obvious.
In a joint statement issued at the end of his visit, India and Saudi Arabia “agreed to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, intelligence sharing and capacity-building and to strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug-trafficking and other transnational crimes.” A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the two sides to enhance “cooperation in exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, related crimes and terrorism financing. The two sides further agreed to take action against illegal transfer of money.”
Seeking concerted global action against terror infrastructure, PM Modi said a strong collective action is required by the global community and that there was a need for increasing the effectiveness of UNSC Resolution 1267. “States must cooperate toward early finalisation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism under the UN umbrella mooted by India way back in 1996,” Modi asserted.
The two sides held detailed discussions on Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya. “Referring to the earlier declarations with regard to the situations in Yemen and Syria, they called for the implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions (2216, 2254 and 2268). They also expressed grave concern regarding security situation in Libya and Iraq. In this regard, they reiterated the importance of peaceful resolution of these issues through dialogue and political negotiations,” a statement said.
Finance and trade ministers of both countries were tasked to find ways and means to increase the flow of bilateral investments. Modi also invited Saudi Arabia’s top businessmen to invest in defence, insurance, railway and oil. Saudi Arabia is planning to set up world’s largest sovereign wealth fund of over US $2 trillion. India could be a major beneficiary, but for that India would have to make some major taxation reforms. In his interaction with Saudi businessmen, Modi assured them on GST and retroactive taxation.
Listing policy initiatives taken by his government to boost economic growth, Modi said his government was looking for major investment in defence production, railways and deep sea off-shore oil exploration in coal gasification to produce clean energy.
India and Saudi Arabia signed several MoUs on recruitment of general category workers from India, a technical cooperation program on standards, on handicrafts, on exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, terrorism finance etc, and a framework agreement on investment promotion.