Saudi king agrees to help fight terror
Declaration also commits to India’s energy security
A PLEDGE of complete energy security and wide-ranging collaboration to combat terrorism form the core of the new strategic partnership India and Saudi Arabia agreed to forge through a "landmark" declaration, signed on Friday by Saudi monarch King Abdullah and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
That it was the first time ever that a Saudi monarch had signed a bilateral document, sources said, indicated how "special" India was and how "impressed" the king was with his visit. The monarch normally only signs 'proclamations'.
"I know many countries will be jealous but India is special to me," the king told Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat after signing the Delhi Declaration, heralding "a new era" in bilateral relations. The sources said the visit served as "an eye-opener" to India's "great potential" for the monarch and his delegation.
The king was "specially impressed" with the prime minister and "won over by his personality", the sources said. After the declaration was signed at Hyderabad House, the monarch hugged and kissed an embarrassed Manmohan Singh.
The declaration goes a long way to meet Indian concerns on terrorism, with a wide-ranging vision statement to "closely and actively cooperate to fight the menace of terrorism and other transnational crimes like money-laundering, drugs and arms smuggling in a sustained and comprehensive manner".
The declaration agreed to intensify "high-level bilateral visits and consultations" to sustain the progress made during this visit by the monarch, happening after a gap of 51 years.
Energy security, another major concern, was addressed, with Saudi Arabia -- the world's largest producer of crude oil and "a trusted and reliable source of oil supplies" -- assuring India that its needs would be looked after.
Also significant, the sources said, was the exchange of views on the Middle East, particularly after the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, with Riyadh and New Delhi endorsing the peace initiatives that would "invigorate the peace process". India and Saudi Arabia hoped the initiatives would "lead to the establishment of a viable and independent State of Palestine living in peace and prosperity within secure borders side by side with Israel".
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