By Syed Akbar
Riyadh, Feb 27: The signing of extradition treaty between India and Saudi Arabia will herald a new phase in diplomatic relations of the two nations in curbing terrorism and terror-related activities.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who arrived here on Saturday on a three-day bilateral visit to Saudi Arabia, will sign an extradition treaty on Sunday with the oil-rich nation, which commands quite an influence on the Muslim and the Arab world. And as the Prime Minister said, “the Gulf region is an area of vital importance for India’s security and prosperity”.
Extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia has been on the anvil for quite a few years. Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Saudi, the first by an Indian prime minister in 28 years, is likely to give a boost to the revolve of the two countries to fight against global terrorism. Security issues concern Saudi Arabia as much as India, with international terrorism raising its ugly head of late, in the neighbourhood.
India is likely to gain much from the extradition treaty as some of the terror suspects involved in bomb blasts in various Indian cities, including Hyderabad, are reportedly taking shelter in Saudi Arabia.
“Once the extradition treaty is through, no person with criminal backgrround will dare to take shelter there,” a senior official felt. India will be able to lay claim on Indian terror suspects who have taken shelter in Saudi Arabia, or those operating from there. The extradition of underworld don Abu Salem from Portugal after India signed agreement with that country is cited as the best example.
On the issue of terrorism, King Abdullah too has been unwavering in his condemnation of the taking of innocent lives. He has always denounced deviant groups that falsely claim to be Islamic. The king has been leading successful tirade against terrorism and there has been no reported terrorist incident since he has become King.
India and Saudi Arabia have already been sharing information on terror suspects. The current visit will pave way for sharing of intelligence in real time and devising counter-terrorism strategies.
“they will tell us their security concerns, we will tell them about our security concerns and this will help in evolving common strategies to fight terrorism,” the official said.
Security concern is high on Indian agenda, since India has been a victim of international and cross border terrorism. This is clearly reflected in Dr Manmohan Singh’s pre-departure statement, “I believe India and Saudi Arabia have much to gain by cooperating with each other in combating extremism and terrorism. I expect to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and other regional issues of mutual interest”.
The prime minister added that he would be holding talks with Saudi Arabian ruler king Abdullah on how the two countries can promote greater stability and security in the region and impart a strategic character to our relations beyond the traditional areas of cooperation|.
Earlier, Dr Manmohan Singh received a rousing reception at the royal terminal of king Khaled international airport in Riyadh on his arrival from new Delhi.
Departing from the Saudi tradition, all the three minister-brothers of the king and the entire cabinet received the prime minister. A formal welcome will be done by king Abdullah at the royal palace on Sunday before the two leaders meet and sign as many as 10 agreements on various issues.
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