Saudi Arabia agrees to increase counter-terrorism efforts with India

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir met the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, right, shakes hand with her Saudi Arabia counterpart Adel al-Jubeir before their delegation level meeting in New Delhi, India, Monday, March 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Shonal Ganguly)
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India and Saudi Arabia have agreed to increase co-operation on combating terrorism through the formation of a strategic partnership council.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir is in India to follow up on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit last month.

During the visit, Mr Al Jubeir met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to discuss increasing ties between the two countries on joint counter-terrorism efforts.

Ms Swaraj said "an immediate irreversible and verifiable action to dismantle terror infrastructure is essential to fight the menace of terrorism,” in what could be construed as a veiled criticism of neighbouring Pakistan.

India expects Saudi Arabia to persuade Pakistan, which Riyadh wields considerable influence over, to stop supporting insurgents it claims have been fighting in disputed Kashmir since 1989.

Islamabad denies India’s accusations that Pakistan is arming and training insurgents, saying the government only provides moral and diplomatic support.

Crown Prince Mohammed's visit to India last month came after his stop in Pakistan amid mounting tensions between the two countries. Just days after his departure from India, Pakistan downed an Indian fighter jet in what many feared would be the start of another full-scale confrontation between the two countries over Kashmir.

Although Saudi Arabia has not specifically said that its officials have been involved in easing tensions, Riyadh has strong economic ties with both India and Pakistan and would be well-positioned to mediate.

Mr Al Jubeir’s visit is a sign of India’s importance to Riyadh and indicates Saudi Arabia's interest in maintaining peace in the Muslim-majority Kashmir region, although the recent confrontation between Pakistan and India was not specifically mentioned by either side at Monday's talks.