By Syed Akbar
Riyadh, March 1: India and Saudi Arabia have agreed to enhance cooperation in exchange of information relating to terrorist activities, money laundering, narcotics, arms and human trafficking, and develop joint strategies to combat these threats.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is currently on a historic bilateral visit to the oil-rich Arab nation, signed what is called the Riyadh Declaration with Saudi ruler King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud here late on Sunday night. The declaration is being hailed as a new era of strategic partnership, after the Delhi Declaration signed by the two countries in 2006.
Earlier, King Abdullah accorded a traditional welcome at his Al-Rowdha Palace, before the two leaders sat down for bilateral talks. They renewed condemnation of the phenomenon of terrorism, extremism and violence affirming that it is global and threatens all societies and is not linked to any race, colour or belief.
As part of the Riyadh Declaration, the two countries signed the xtradition treaty and the agreement for transfer of sentenced persons. The peace process in the Middle East was high on the agenda of Dr Manmohan Singh and King Abdullah. They expressed hope for the early resumption of the peace process within a definite timeframe leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestinian State, in accordance with the two state solution. The two leaders emphasized that continued
building of settlements by Israel constitutes a fundamental stumbling block for the peace process.
India and Saudi Arabia decided to raise their cooperation to a strategic partnership covering security, economic, defence and political areas. The two leaders further emphasised the importance of strengthening the strategic energy partnership based on complimentarity and interdependence, including meeting India's increasing requirement of crude oil supplies. Dr Manmohan Singh invited Saudi Arabia to participate in crude storage facilities in India.
The Riyadh Declaration emphasized the importance of regional and international efforts focusing on making the Middle East and Gulf Region free of all nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction. The leaders encouraged Iran to respond to efforts to remove regional and international doubts about its nuclear programme, especially as these
ensure the right of Iran and other countries to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and called for the preservation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence.
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