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Bailout and investment are not same: India plays down Riyadh's $20 bn handout to Pakistan

Terror, investment and welfare of the Indian community will be the strong focus during Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman's two-day visit to India starting Tuesday.The terror attack in Pulwama will a strong focus when Prime Minister Modi meets with the crown prince.

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Sidhant Sibal

Updated: Feb 18, 2019, 07:11 PM IST

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Terror, investment and welfare of the Indian community will be the strong focus during Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman's two-day visit to India starting Tuesday.The terror attack in Pulwama will a strong focus when Prime Minister Modi meets with the crown prince.

The prince was on a two-day state visit to Pakistan from 17th to 18th February, where he has announced investments of $20 billion. Saudi Arabia had last year given Pakistan a $6 billion bailout.

Asked about the recent announcement of $20 billion investment, a top govt source told WION, "Can't compare ties Saudi has with India and with Pakistan. When they invest in India, they invest in a robust economy. They are not here to bail out India."

Adding further, "Relationship has radically transformed in last few years. We looking at joint naval exercise. Someone who should be worried, it should be Pakistan."

On terror, the source said, "Saudi has a far better understanding of our position on Kashmir and the kind of terrorism we have been facing."

India is hoping that Saudi Arabia will curtail its funding to Pakistan should it not rein its support for terror groups based on its soil. 

It is interesting to note that the Crown Prince was on a two-day visit to Pakistan but won't be coming to Delhi directly, instead went back to Riyadh and will be directly from Riyadh to Delhi on Tuesday evening. Many will be seeing this as a sublte message from Saudi Arabia of de hypenation between India and Pakistan in the region.

This will be the second meet between Modi and the prince in a span of three months. They last met on November 29 in Argentina on the sidelines of the G20 summit. 

"One the issues which could come up for discussion are trade and investment, defence, security including counter-terrorism is another. Renewable energy which is something that is coming up as an important area of cooperation," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said in his briefing last week.

Prime Minister Modi had visited Riyadh in April 2016. Saudi Arabia's King Salman had honoured him then with the "Sash of King Abdulaziz", the highest civilian decoration awarded by the West Asian country. 

Saudi Arabia is India's fourth-largest trading partner after China, the US and Japan. India imports 17 per cent of its crude oil requirement from the kingdom. Bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia stood at $27.48 billion in 2017-18, a year-on-year increase of 9.56 per cent. 

Crown Prince Salman is Saudi Arabia's second-most important person after the king and his designated successor. Saudi Arabia of course in one of the world's largest oil producers.

A 2.7 million-strong Indian community lives in Saudi Arabia.The Haj pilgrimage is an important component of the bilateral relations between the two countries. In 2018, Riyadh increased the Indian Haj quota by 5,000, enabling 1,75,025 Indians to undertake the pilgrimage last year.

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