NEW DELHI: India on Monday played down Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud’s decision to grant Pakistan $20 billion in aid a day before his arrival in New Delhi on his first state visit Tuesday.
Prince Salman, who has been linked to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October, is on a three-nation tour of Asia, which began in Pakistan on Sunday.
He returned to Riyadh on Monday evening and arrives in Delhi on Tuesday evening.
New Delhi had reservations over his coming to India from Pakistan. He is expected to leave for Beijing on Wednesday. But more than the aid, the joint statement released at the end of his visit to Pakistan is likely to leave New Delhi uncomfortable.
Not only does it laud Pakistan’s efforts in the war against terror, but in a clear reference to India’s attempt to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar listed as a terrorist by the United Nations, “ underlined the need for avoiding politicisation of UN listing regime.”
The Saudi Crown Prince also “praised openness and efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan for dialogue with India and the opening of the Kartarpur crossing point and the efforts exerted by both sides, stressing that dialogue is the only way to ensure peace and stability in the region to resolve outstanding issues,” the joint statement issued in Islamabad says.
While India will roll out the red carpet for the royal visit, diplomats in Delhi are likely to face some uncomfortable questions over the Saudi-Pak joint statement during the visit.