Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz is the most powerful person in Saudi Arabia, with the possible exception of the king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The Crown Prince made a big decision on a request from PM Modi. On February 20, the prince ordered the release of 850 Indian prisoners lodged in his country’s jails.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar made the announcement on his Twitter account on February 20, called it ‘another big deliverable’.
Another big deliverable!
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) February 20, 2019
It should be noted that, during the Budget session in Parliament, the Ministry of External Affairs said that a total of 4,705 Indian nationals have been lodged in the prisons in Gulf countries, with Saudi Arabia having a total 2,224 prisoners followed by the United Arab Emirates with 1,606 prisoners.
Along with the release of the prisoners, the Foreign Ministry said the Saudi Crown Prince has also announced the increase in quote for Indian Haj pilgrims to 2 lakh at the request of PM Modi.
Salman said extremism & terrorism are common concerns for the two countries
“Extremism and terrorism are our common concerns. We would like to tell our friend India that we’ll cooperate on all fronts, be it intelligence sharing. We’ll work with everyone to ensure a brighter future for our upcoming generations,” Saudi Crown Prince Salman said during the joint press briefing.
The two sides inked five agreements in various fields
Saudi Arabia has committed to deals to the tune of 100 billion dollars, which includes $11 billion investments in mega petrochemical project in Maharashtra. They have identified a few projects where they will invest the remaining 89 billion dollars. The two sides inked five agreements in various fields, including tourism and enhancement of bilateral investment relations, the foreign ministry said.
Other developments that took place
Amid India’s efforts to diplomatically isolate Pakistan over the Pulwama terror attack, the Saudi Crown Prince has announced investments worth 20 billion dollars during his two-day visit to Islamabad.
Both sides also agreed on the need for “creation of conditions necessary for resumption of the comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan”.
After the talks, it was also announced that India has decided to extend e-Visa facility to Saudi nationals.
Both sides noted the potential of cooperation in the renewable energy sector, not only in investment but also in research and development, a joint statement issued after the talks said.
In another significant move, Saudi Arabia has also agreed to resolve issues relating to Indian workers who are currently stranded in the kingdom due to the closure of a foreign company, T S Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the MEA, said.
PM Modi broke protocol to personally welcome the Saudi Prince at the Delhi airport with a warm hug. But his gesture drew Congress barbs. “Breaking protocol, grand welcome to those who pledged USD 20 billion to Pakistan and praised Pakistan”s ”anti-terror” efforts. Is it ur way of remembering martyrs of Pulwama?” Congress leader Randeep Surjewala tweeted.
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