India, Saudi Arabia to deepen cooperation to fight terrorism
NEW DELHI (AP) — India and Saudi Arabia on Monday agreed to set up a strategic partnership council to deepen cooperation to combat terrorism.
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir discussed the proposal with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during a brief visit to New Delhi on Monday, according to a statement issued by India’s External Affairs Ministry.
Without naming Pakistan, Swaraj said “an immediate irreversible and verifiable action to dismantle terror infrastructure is essential to fight the menace of terrorism.”
Saudi Arabia wields considerable influence over Pakistan through a sizeable economic support. India expects Saudi Arabia to persuade Pakistan to stop supporting insurgents who have been fighting Indian forces in disputed Kashmir since 1989.
While India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents, Islamabad says it provides only moral and diplomatic support to them. The rebels have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered intelligence sharing and other cooperation with India in fighting extremism and terrorism during his visit to New Delhi last month.
His visit came at a time of heightened tension between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan following a suicide attack on an Indian convoy of paramilitary forces in the Indian portion of Kashmir that left 40 soldiers dead. India blamed a Pakistan-based group called Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over control of Kashmir, since they won independence from British colonialists in 1947. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but both claim it in its entirety.