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India and Saudi Arabia talk trade, Taliban and development

world Updated: Mar 01, 2010 02:17 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
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Saudi Arabia expressed concerns over extremism in Pakistan as New Delhi and Riyadh firmed up a strategic partnership on Sunday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled a roadmap for comprehensive economic partnership as he addressed captains of industry from both the countries on the second day of his visit here.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who had a discussion with Singh, later spoke of the “dangerous trend” of extremism in Pakistan and made it clear that Riyadh had nothing to do with the Taliban.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were among the few countries that had recognised the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The Saudi minister said, “Pakistan is a friendly country. Therefore, any time one does see dangerous trends in a friendly country, one is not only sorry but worried. And it is indeed the duty of all political leaders in Pakistan to unite to see that extremism does not find a way to achieve its aim in the country and this can only happen with united political leadership in Pakistan. This, we hope, Pakistan will possibly achieve.”

The minister also pointed out that Saudi Arabia had changed its position on the Taliban since 9/11. “We have no relationship with the Taliban. That happened after the Taliban gave sanctuary to Al-Qaeda,” he said, stressing that India and his country were moving towards a strategic partnership.

“Together, we can work (out) what is good for our people and the peace in the region”.

“India sees Saudi Arabia as a strategic partner for promoting peace, stability and economic development. Such a partnership will bring benefits not only to our two countries but to the region we both belong to, and to the world at large,” Singh said.

After discussions between Singh and King Abduallah, the two sides are expected to up with a Riyadh declaration.