Big boost for Saudi, India intelligence sharing
During his interactions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, the prince brought up real-time intelligence-sharing to counter terrorists threats and closer cooperation on maritime security in the Indian Ocean region, the people said on condition of anonymity.Updated: Feb 21, 2019 23:37 IST
Cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia in intelligence-sharing and strategic security and defence matters is set to get a boost thanks to measures proposed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, people familiar with development said on Thursday.
During his interactions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, the prince brought up real-time intelligence-sharing to counter terrorists threats and closer cooperation on maritime security in the Indian Ocean region, the people said on condition of anonymity.
“The prince underlined Saudi Arabia’s strength in intelligence and information and how we can work together on intelligence-sharing on a real-time basis,” one of the persons said.
“The prince indicated his understanding of the threats India is facing, and in this context, both sides agreed to set up a comprehensive security dialogue with the NSAs (national security advisors) and a joint working group on counter-terrorism,” the person added.
The joint statement issued at the conclusion of the prince’s visit on Wednesday said the two sides had agreed to start a “comprehensive security dialogue” of their NSAs and to set up a joint working group to boost counter-terrorism efforts.
The people quoted above said there has been “good and substantial” intelligence-sharing in the past and the new measures are aimed at making the cooperation more structured. India’s National Investigation Agency has benefited from information provided by the Saudis, they added. Saudi deputy foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir also told journalists on Wednesday that intelligence provided by his country had helped stop terror attacks. He did not give details.
The two sides also agreed to cement their strategic partnership through a high-level monitoring mechanism called the “Strategic Partnership Council” that will be led by the Indian premier and the Saudi crown prince. This council will be supported by two or three ministerial groups that will focus on economic issues, defence, foreign policy and security issues, and socio-cultural ties, the people said.
India also accepted the Saudi prince’s proposal for the two sides to work closely on maritime security.
“He mentioned that in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf, the two countries should work with other countries and they can be net security providers. This is a recognition of India’s prowess in maritime security,” the person quoted above said.
The people said the joint statement also reflected Saudi Arabia’s acknowledgement of the common threat of terrorism, as well as greater sensitivity for India’s concerns related to terrorism and its position on Jammu and Kashmir.
They said this marked a “significant change” in the kingdom’s appreciation of the threats faced by India. The reference in the joint statement for the creation of conditions for the resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue reflected Riyadh’s understanding of New Delhi’s position that talks can he held only if Islamabad renounces terrorism, the people said.