Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday wrapped up his first visit to the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia, describing it as “very productive and fruitful.”
As a result of his discussions with the top leadership here in the past three days, both India and Saudi Arabia have agreed to upgrade their relationship to “strategic partnership.” Talking to journalists on board the special aircraft on his return journey to New Delhi, Dr. Singh said the strategic partnership would cover economic issues, trade and investment issues, those relating to energy security, investments in each other’s country in upstream and downstream energy activities and investments in renewable energy resources.
The Prime Minister said the strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia would also cover issues relating to security, cooperation in dealing with terrorism and arrangements for information and intelligence sharing.
During the visit, India and Saudi Arabia signed an Extradition Treaty and inked agreements in the field of research, education, science and technology, information technology and services and for peaceful uses of outer space.
The highlight of the visit was signing of Riyadh Declaration between him and King Abdullahbin Abdulaziz Al Saud late on Sunday night, which heralded a new era of strategic partnership between India and Saudi Arabia. On Monday, Dr. Singh addressed the Shura Council and was also conferred the honorary doctorate by the King Saud University, the oldest and largest university in Saudi Arabia.
The Riyadh Declaration which came four years after “Delhi Declaration” when King Abdullah had visited New Delhi in 2006 said the two leaders noted that tolerance, religious harmony and brotherhood, irrespective of faith or ethnic background, were part of the principles and values of both countries.
“The two leaders renewed condemnation of the phenomena of terrorism, extremism and violence affirming that it is global and threatens all societies and is not linked to any race, colour or belief. The international community must, therefore, resolutely combat terrorism.
The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in exchange of information relating to terrorist activities, money laundering, narcotics, arms and human trafficking, and develop joint strategies to combat these threats. They welcomed the signing of the Extradition Treaty and the Agreement for Transfer of Sentenced Persons,” the declaration said.
In the course of discussions on regional and international issues, the peace process in the West Asia was high on the agenda. The two leaders reviewed ongoing efforts and the latest developments, and expressed hope for the early resumption of the peace process in accordance with the U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and the Arab Peace Plan with a view to address all the key issues of the dispute comprehensively and within a definite time frame leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestinian State, in accordance with the two-state solution.
The two leaders discussed the situation in Afghanistan and called for the preservation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence. They expressed their full support for the efforts aimed at helping Afghanistan to develop its infrastructure and achieve social and economic development.
They supported the efforts of the people of Afghanistan to achieve stability and security, protected from exploitation by the terrorist organisations, while upholding the values and principles of the Constitution of Afghanistan.