King Salman, Indian prime minister confirm close ties

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G-20 meeting in Brisbane in this Nov. 15, 2014, photo. (SPA)

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G-20 meeting in Brisbane in this Nov. 15, 2014, photo. (SPA)

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman’s phone call to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday in the wake of Operation Decisive Storm confirms the close relationship between the two nations, say analysts.

Arab News has learned that during the conversation, Modi thanked King Salman for the contact and wished him the best in resolving security challenges in the region “and early restoration of peace and stability under the king’s leadership.”

The prime minister also reaffirmed his commitment to further strengthening India’s ties with Saudi Arabia.

The king highlighted the two countries’ longstanding relations and gave assurances that everything would be done to protect Indians in Yemen, and assistance for their safe evacuation if needed.

“A conversation between friends in times of crisis is always significant,” said M.J. Akbar, national spokesman of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. He said Modi’s response had been warm and cordial. “Saudi-Indian ties have been good,” he said. “But under Modi, they will take a positive leap forward.”

He said India’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is based on peace and stability in the region and economic prosperity. “These are two guiding principles on which our prime minister is taking the relationship forward,” said Akbar.

“India has the highest possible stake in Gulf security,” said Talmiz Ahmad, former Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who spent a large part of his diplomatic career in the region, and was awarded the King Abdul Aziz Medal in 2011 for promoting Saudi-India relations.

In Ahmad’s view, the king wanted to explain how the Kingdom views the Yemen imbroglio, including concerns about Iran’s military and political expansion in the region. “This, in the Saudi view, has left the Kingdom with no choice but to resort to military action in Yemen,” he said.

According to Ahmad, the king would have also wished to reassure India about the value the Kingdom attaches to its strategic partnership with India, cemented during the visit of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2010, and explain that Pakistan’s participation in defending Saudi interests vis-a-vis Yemen should not be read as a dilution of Saudi ties with India.

“I am confident that Prime Minister Modi fully understands the importance of our ties with Saudi Arabia and will ensure that these relations are nurtured vigorously,” said Ahmad.

“Saudi Arabia has a special place in the hearts of all Indians,” Islamic scholar Akhtarul Wasey told Arab News from Delhi. “We welcome the talks between our prime minister and King Salman.”

“No Indian would ever like to see any harm come to Saudi Arabia,” said Wasey. “Our relationship with Saudi Arabia has spiritual and religious dimensions and we always pray for the protection of the land of the two holy mosques.”


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