NEW DELHI: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has said the kingdom was willing to mediate to set up talks between India and Pakistan, but the timing would be up to the arch-foes to decide. The statement came during an interview to India’s The Hindu newspaper while the Saudi foreign minister was on a two-day visit to New Delhi.
Responding to a question about whether Saudi Arabia was disappointed that talks had not restarted between Pakistan and India, Prince Farhan said: “We will always provide our good offices when we can, but it’s up to India and Pakistan to decide when the time is right.”
He said that Kingdom is ready to play its role in resolving the issue, as well as easing tensions between Pakistan and India.
He said as Kashmir continued to remain a dispute between the two countries, “we would encourage [is] that there should be a focus on a path of dialogue and discussion among India and Pakistan to resolve these issues in a way that can settle these concerns permanently.”
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir. Pakistan accuses India of rights violations in Kashmir, and India says Pakistan supports militants in its part of the region. Both deny the charges.
In February this year, the militaries of India and Pakistan said in a rare joint statement that they had agreed to observe a cease-fire along the border in Kashmir, after exchanging fire hundreds of times in recent months.
In April, the United Arab Emirates’ envoy to Washington confirmed the Gulf state was mediating between India and Pakistan to help the rivals reach a “healthy and functional” relationship.
On the Afghan situation, Faisal said that the stability of the war-torn country was their foremost concern. The leadership in Afghanistan now, the Taliban … must take into account the concerns of the international community as regards the security situation,” he said.
“… The Taliban has a responsibility to exercise good judgement and good governance, to be inclusive, to bring in all people in Afghanistan, and to forge a path that can lead to stability, security and prosperity,” he added.
When asked about the withholding of international aid to the war-torn country, the Saudi minister said that it was directed primarily for the benefit of Afghan people. “Our position is that aid should continue and should not be affected by these situations.”
Meeting with PM Narendra Modi
Visiting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud on Monday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed regional developments, including the situation in Afghanistan.
The meeting also allowed the exchange of perspectives on regional developments, including the situation in Afghanistan, said the Ministry of External Affairs release. The meeting reviewed progress on various ongoing bilateral initiatives, including those taken under the aegis of the Strategic Partnership Council established between both countries. Prime Minister expressed India’s keenness to see greater investment from Saudi Arabia, including in key sectors like energy, IT and defence manufacturing.
PM Modi also conveyed his special thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for looking after the welfare of the Indian diaspora during the COVID-19 pandemic, the release added.
Prime Minister also conveyed his warm greetings and regards to His Majesty the King and His Highness the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
“Pleased to receive Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. Exchanged views on ongoing bilateral cooperation initiatives and the regional situation. Conveyed my regards to His Majesty the King and His Highness the Crown Prince,” PM Modi said in a tweet.
This is the first ministerial visit from Saudi Arabia to India since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prince Faisal bin Farhan is on a three-day visit to New Delhi.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday. They discussed all issues related to their bilateral relationship and regional and international issues of mutual interest. They also exchanged views on the developments in Afghanistan and other regional issues.
“Saudi Arabia and India have shared concerns as to whether Afghanistan will become a sanctuary for extremists because then it would become extremely dangerous for the neighborhood as a whole,” Talmiz Ahmad, former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.
“It’s natural that both the close partners would discuss Afghanistan. It reflects very close relations that India and Saudi Arabia have established with each other.
“We now have a strategic council at the apex level. Therefore, the relationship that began with cooperation on counterterrorism has now become a very strong and deep strategic partnership.