Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived at New Delhi on Tuesday evening to be received with a warm hug from PM Narendra Modi at the airport, freshly arriving from a trip to Islamabad.
As the Arab prince landed in New Delhi, the Indian host PM Modi had personally headed to receive the high-profile guest at the airport, breaking the usual prime ministerial protocol – a special gesture signifying the importance of the visit. In a tweet, Modi said India is “delighted to welcome” the Saudi Arabia Crown Prince – as the prince commenced his first-ever bilateral trip to India. For the visit from the leader of the powerful Gulf nation is important, especially during the sensitive time in the country after Pulwama attack.
Not only because India and Saudi Arabia has bilateral benefits and agendas to look into, but also because the Saudi Prince was in Islamabad for a high-profile tour of Pakistan at the start of his tour of South Asia, and had arrived to India within just 30 hours after the trip. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had received a similar welcome from Pakistani PM Imran Khan, who not only received him at the airport, but also drove him to the PM house. Perhaps, Saudi’s stand and relations are evidently important for both India and Pakistan.
Today, Prince MBS and PM Modi will “hold extensive talks” on enhancing defence ties, including having a joint naval exercise and other ways to boost defence support. Also, Saudi Arabia may or may not discuss about the recent terror attack. The big question during Saudi Prince MBS’ trip to India in the backdrops of Pulwama terror attack will remain whether Saudi Arabia go beyond denouncing the attack and call out Pakistan, or the other way around, or remain silent?