External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday discussed developments in Afghanistan with his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. Along with this, brainstormed on further enhancing bilateral relations in the fields of defence, trade, investment and energy. After the talks, Jaishankar described the meeting as friendly and fruitful and had a very fruitful exchange of views with Al Saud on Afghanistan, the Gulf region and the Indo-Pacific. The Foreign Minister said on Twitter that he urged the resumption of direct flights to Saudi Arabia as soon as possible and that they agreed to work together on all challenges related to Kovid. Al Saud arrived here on a three-day visit on Saturday evening. This is the first visit by a Saudi Arabian minister to India since the outbreak of the pandemic. The Ministry of External Affairs said the two sides discussed developments in Afghanistan and discussed ways to deepen ties in the areas of defence, trade, investment and energy. Jaishankar called on India to further relax restrictions on travel to the Gulf and commended the country for its support to the Indian community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jaishankar tweeted that had a friendly and fruitful meeting with Al Saud, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia. “We discussed our cooperation in the political, security and socio-cultural pillars of our strategic partnership,” he said. “There was a very fruitful exchange of views on Afghanistan, the Gulf and the Indo-Pacific,” he said. “The two ministers exchanged views on developments in Afghanistan and other regional issues,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. The Ministry of External Affairs said the two ministers discussed all issues relating to bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest. According to the ministry, “the two ministers reviewed the implementation of the ‘Strategic Partnership Council Agreement’, which was signed during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in October 2019.” It said both sides expressed satisfaction at the meetings and progress made under the agreement. “The two sides discussed further steps to strengthen their partnership in trade, investment, energy, defence, security, culture, embassy issues, health care and human resources,” the ministry said. The ministry said the two sides also discussed bilateral cooperation in multilateral fora such as the United Nations, the G20 and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Saudi Foreign Minister is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. He has come on this visit at a time when India is in touch with all the powerful countries regarding the developments after the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan. It is said that the main topic of talks between Jaishankar and Al Saud was the situation in Afghanistan. As a major nation in the region, Saudi Arabia’s stand on developments in Kabul assumes significance as several countries in the Gulf region, including Qatar and Iran, were playing a role in the Afghan peace process before the Taliban took over Afghanistan. In the Gulf region, India is in touch with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran on developments in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that the change in power in Afghanistan has not been “inclusive”, raising questions about the acceptability of the new regime and that the global community should be “collective” and “thinking” about recognizing it in this situation. ‘Take a decision. This was stated by Prime Minister Modi in his digital address at the 21st summit of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, explaining India’s stand on the issue of Afghanistan. Defense and security ties between India and Saudi Arabia are gradually expanding. Army Chief General MM Nar Vane had visited Saudi Arabia in December last year, which was the first visit by an Indian Army Chief to the country.
[Attribution to NBT]