King Salman, Trump begin consultations on fighting terror, Syria safe zone

Updated 30 January 2017

King Salman, Trump begin consultations on fighting terror, Syria safe zone

WASHINGTON: In his first phone call to an Arab leader, US President Donald Trump discussed with Saudi King Salman bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud yesterday a full range of bilateral and regional issues, including extensive coordination in combatting terrorism, establishing safe zones in Syria and deepening Saudi-American economic ties.
The call which according to a White House official occurred at at 1:30 p.m. Washington time (9:30 p.m. Riyadh time) was attended at the oval office by Trump’s most senior advisers. The pool report noted that US national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law and trusted adviser Jared Kushner, the chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon as well as the White House spokesperson Sean Spicer were in the room. 
In a statement released by the White House few hours later, the Trump administration confirmed that the “two leaders reaffirmed the longstanding friendship and strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia.” On the issues, Trump and King Salman “agreed on the importance of strengthening joint efforts to fight the spread of radical Islamic terrorism and also on the importance of working jointly to address challenges to regional peace and security, including the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.”
On Syria particularly both leaders agreed “support safe zones in Syria and as well as other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts.” The phone call also discussed Iran, with mutual agreement “on the importance of rigorously enforcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and of addressing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.”
Bilaterally, Trump “voiced support for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic program and expressed a desire to explore additional steps to strengthen bilateral economic and energy cooperation.” The White House also confirmed that King Salman passed an invitation to Trump “to lead a Middle East effort to defeat terrorism and to help build a new future, economically and socially, for the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the region.” King Salman was also the first Arab leader to congratulate Trump in a statement after winning the election on November 9th.
Both world leaders extended invitations to boost bilateral ties and cooperation and agreed to schedule visits in the upcoming period.
President Trump also had a phone call with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Sunday during which they explored ways of enhancing bilateral ties, UAE state news agency WAM reported.
Sheikh Mohammed affirmed that extremism and terrorism have no religion or identity and the groups that preach false slogans and ideologies seek to disguise their criminal intention in spreading chaos and destruction.
The two sides took stock of the latest regional issues and developments in light of the UAE and US’ vision regarding important ideas and initiatives that aim to put an end to the security and humanitarian deterioration in the region.
The also emphasized their commitment to realize stability and security in the region and support joint efforts to counter extremism, violence and terrorist groups that threaten security and safety of countries and peoples.
“The UAE is looking forward to overcome this stage of chaos and instability in the region through joint co-operation and efforts that serve mutual interests, achieve peace and stability and restore security,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India will boost robust interactions that New Delhi has established with Saudi Arabia over the last few years. (Supplied)
Updated 20 February 2019

Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

  • New Delhi’s participation in Kingdom’s mega projects a major aspect of renewed ties: Talmiz Ahmad

NEW DELHI: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s first visit to India is a landmark development in bilateral ties between India and Saudi Arabia, according to Talmiz Ahmad, a former ambassador to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is India’s largest supplier of crude oil, but since taking office in 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to use India’s growing economy to attract more investment from Saudi Arabia beyond energy, and foster cooperation on trade, infrastructure and defense.

Ahmad, author of several books on the Arab world and twice India’s Ambassador to Riyadh, said that while the backbone of New Delhi’s relationship with the Kingdom is energy, the two sides had been discussing “how to give greater substance and longevity to the relationship on the basis of concrete projects.”

Reuters reported this week that India is expecting Prince Salman to announce an initial investment in its National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, a quasi-sovereign wealth fund, to help accelerate the building of ports and highways. Saudi Arabia has also suggested investing in India’s farming industry, with an eye on food imports to the Kingdom. 

Ahmad said Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project, a $500 billion smart city in Tabuk province on the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, would also provide great opportunities for Indian companies. 

He added that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the crown prince’s blueprint to fundamentally transform Kingdom’s economy, presents another opportunity for Indian businesses to prosper from the relationship.

“India is extremely well placed,” said Ahmad. “We are world leaders in small and medium enterprises and in the services sector. Saudi Arabia also has proposals to develop its tourism and leisure sectors, and I believe India is also well placed in those areas too.”

He also discussed how the strategic partnership had been initiated by former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who visited Riyadh in 2010, but that Modi, who visited in 2016, had added “considerable substance” to the relationship.

He stressed, though, that Riyadh’s ties with India are independent of its relationship with Pakistan. He added India and Saudi Arabia were also working together to improve the security situation in Afghanistan, to resolve the 17-year conflict between government forces and the Afghan Taliban, as well as in the wider West Asia region. 

“India has excellent relations with all the countries in West Asia, and New Delhi is well placed to address some of the concerns that all the countries have with each other,” he said.