Saudi Arabia and India address terrorism in a rare meeting

During the first visit to Saudi Arabia by an Indian premier in nearly three decades, Manmohan Singh discussed terrorism, peace with Pakistan, and trade.

By , Correspondent

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    Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses the Saudi Consultative Council during his visit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Monday.
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A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

The first state visit to Saudi Arabia by an Indian leader in almost 30 years saw Manmohan Singh discuss terrorism, peace with Pakistan, and trade with the Saudi King Abdullah.

Prime Minister Singh said of peace talks with Pakistan that India "can walk the extra mile to open a new chapter in relations between our two countries."

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His statement is the latest in measured steps toward improving relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors after India restarted formal talks – suspended since the November 2008 Mumbai (Bombay) attacks – with Pakistan just last week.

“We seek cooperative relations with Pakistan. Our objective is a permanent peace because we recognize that we are bound together by a shared future. If there is cooperation between India and Pakistan, vast opportunities will open up for trade, travel, and development that will create prosperity in both countries and in South Asia as a whole,” Singh said Monday to the Saudi Consultative Council in Riyadh, according to the Indian Express.

Singh tempered his offer by adding that Pakistan must "act decisively against terrorism" and that nowhere is the challenge of terrorism now greater than in Afghanistan, the Times of India reports.

Recent terrorist attacks have highlighted India's role in Afghanistan. About half of the victims of a suicide attack on Friday in Kabul that killed 16, for which the Taliban claimed credit, were Indian. It was the third attack on Indian interests in Kabul since 2008, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

The United States has a stake in India-Pakistan peace because it could encourage Pakistan to get more involved in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Traditionally, Pakistan has supported the Afghan Taliban as a counterbalance to Indian influence in Afghanistan.

"The resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue is apparently closely linked with US moves in Afghanistan in the context of President Obama’s publicly declared intent to begin the process of US military withdrawal from Afghanistan from 2011,” P.K. Upadhyay, a consultant with the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, wrote in a paper.

Saudi Arabia also used India's visit to address Pakistan.

“Pakistan is a friendly country. Anytime one sees a dangerous trend in a friendly country, one is not only sorry but worried,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told Indian journalists after meeting Singh, the Pakistan daily Dawn reported. The Saudi minister also said that Saudi Arabia no longer had ties to the Taliban, which were "abrogated" when the Taliban gave sanctuary to Al Qaeda.

Singh's visit to Saudi Arabia was the first by an Indian premier in 28 years, and he emphasized the visit's purpose was to promote stability and security across the region, Agence France-Presse said.

Beyond security, Singh's trip has also focused on trade with the OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports. Indian Oil Minister Shri Murli Deora said Riyadh is willing to sell more oil to India.

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