India, Saudi reject interference in internal affairs of nations
This was an indication of the Saudi side’s understanding of India’s stated position that the decision to scrap J-K’s special status and reorganise it into two union territories was a purely internal issue.Updated: Oct 31, 2019, 02:21 IST
India and Saudi Arabia’s rejection of any “interference in the internal affairs of countries” is being perceived as Riyadh’s tacit support for New Delhi’s recent decision to reorganise the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Kashmir issue didn’t figure in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meetings with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday, and the Saudi side only made it clear that recent actions by India were its “internal matter”, people familiar with developments said on Wednesday.
A joint statement issued at the end of Modi’s day-long visit said the two sides had discussed regional and international issues and “reiterated their categorical rejection of all forms of interference in the internal affairs of countries, and the need for the international community to fulfill its responsibilities towards preventing any attacks on the sovereignty of States”.
This, the people cited above, said was an indication of the Saudi side’s understanding of India’s stated position that the August 5 decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and reorganise it into two union territories was a purely internal issue.
Pakistan and its efforts to gain Saudi Arabia’s support on the Kashmir issue did figure in Tuesday’s discussions and the Saudi side indicated that Islamabad isn’t getting Riyadh’s backing in such matters, the people said.
“The Saudi side may make some cosmetic gestures on such issues but there is no need to attach importance to them – that appears to be the message from the Saudi leadership,” said a person who declined to be identified in order to speak freely on the issue.
“Pakistan trying to invoke support in the name of religion won’t work,” the person added.
The joint statement also included several references to issues of importance to Saudi Arabia, such as the relevance of Security Council Resolution 2254 to the situation in Syria, the preservation of the unity of Yemen and the need for a political solution to the Yemeni crisis on the basis of the GCC initiative.
The two sides also expressed hope for achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in Palestine based on the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant UN resolutions, to guarantee the establishment of an independent state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, the statement said.
The people cited the Strategic Partnership Council launched with the signing of an agreement by Modi and the Saudi crown prince as a significant development that will enhance and broadbase bilateral relations.
The council will have two separate verticals – one on political, security, culture and society headed by the foreign ministers of the two sides, and another on economy and investments headed by the Indian commerce minister and the Saudi energy minister. There will also be several groups of senior officials of both sides that will work on key issues.
The council, to be headed by the Indian premier and the Saudi crown prince, will review all issues during a summit every two years while the mechanisms headed by the ministers will meet annually.
The people cited above said Saudi Arabia was looking to forge new partnerships with key global players as the US reduces its role in West Asia and other regions and there was a convergence of interests between Riyadh and New Delhi in several areas, such as the safety of navigation in regional waters and security of energy supplies.
India is only the fourth country, after the UK, France and China, with which Saudi Arabia has signed such an agreement for a strategic partnership.
The two sides also signed an agreement on security cooperation that will cover counter-terrorism, organised, trans-border and economic crimes and human trafficking.
During an interaction with Indian reporters, India’s ambassador Ausaf Sayeed said bilateral relations were not linked to any country.
“We have moved beyond that. The Saudi side is very categorical. They see India as one entity and as a composite country and not in terms of sub-groups…India is an example of a country with a lot of diversity and unity in that diversity…Saudi Arabia appreciates our stance as a country, our secular fabric and they would like to work with us to promote understanding among faiths and nations,” he said.