Saudi Arabia deserves praise for best Hajj arrangements

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Muslim pilgrims leave after offering noon prayers outside the Namirah mosque on Arafat Mountain, during the annual hajj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (AP)
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Saudi King Salman confers the King Abdul Aziz Medal on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Riyadh on April 3, 2016. (SPA)
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Updated 26 January 2020

Saudi Arabia deserves praise for best Hajj arrangements

  • Presence of 2.6 million Indian expats in Saudi Arabia boosts bilateral ties

On the occasion of India’s 71st Republic Day, I extend my best wishes to my fellow Indian citizens in the western region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations which reflect centuries-old economic and socio-cultural ties.
Visits by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in April 2016 and in October 2019 plus the exchanges of other high-level visits have further strengthened the warm relations between the two countries.
As our prime minister said during his visit in October 2019, India would work hand-in-hand with Saudi Arabia on the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan.  
The presence of over 2.6 million Indian expatriates in the Kingdom has also contributed immensely to the strength of economic and socio-cultural ties between our two nations.
Bilateral trade delegations have also increased in the last few years. Indian business delegations are now a regular feature of trade exhibitions in Jeddah and other parts of the Kingdom. The Indian Consulate in Jeddah works tirelessly and diligently to provide the best possible service to Indian nationals residing in the western region of the Kingdom.
This good service includes reducing to three working days the length of time required for issuing/reissuing passports.
The introduction of an e-visa facility for Saudi nationals has further streamlined visa processing and provides a smooth first step for those wanting to visit India.
The Indian government and the people of India are grateful to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hajj Minister Dr. Mohammed Benten for making excellent arrangements during Hajj 2019. In that year, 200,000 Indian nationals performed Hajj and more than 650,000 Indians came for Umrah.
The Indian side remains committed to partnering closely with Saudi Arabia and working toward a very successful Hajj 2020.
We sincerely express our gratitude to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi ministries of foreign affairs, labor, interior and the authorities of Jawazat, Tarheel and other concerned agencies who have always provided exemplary assistance to the consulate which has enabled the comfortable stay of the many Indians visiting, living, and working in the Kingdom.

• Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh is India’s consul general in Jeddah. 


Pompeo arrives in Saudi Arabia for talks on Iran

Updated 23 min 29 sec ago

Pompeo arrives in Saudi Arabia for talks on Iran

  • Pompeo will hold talks with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as well as Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan
  • After Riyadh, he will fly to Oman to meet the new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, on Friday

RIYADH: The US Secretary of State landed in Riyadh on Wednesday for talks with Saudi Arabia’s leaders focused on countering Iran.
Mike Pompeo’s visit is his first to the Kingdom since the US killed Iran’s powerful military commander Qassem Soleimani.
He will hold talks with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as well as Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, State Department officials said.
"We'll spend a lot of time talking about the security issues with the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran in particular," Pompeo told reporters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa before heading to Riyadh.
Pompeo said the United States was "prepared to talk anytime" to Iran but emphasised that the Iranian regime has "got to fundamentally change their behavior".
"The pressure campaign continues. It's not just an economic pressure campaign, its diplomatic pressures, isolation through diplomacy as well," he said.

US President Donald Trump in 2018 withdrew from a nuclear accord with Iran and imposed sweeping sanctions aimed at reducing Tehran's regional clout.

Pompeo's three-day visit to Saudi Arabia comes after an increase in regional tensions following the drone strike last month in Baghdad that killed Soleimani. 
Iran responded with missile strikes on US forces in Iraq.

Speaking in Riyadh, Pompeo said that the US will not tolerate Iran’s attacks on American troops in Iraqi bases.

Earlier, he warned that the US would respond to Iranian attacks on its troops in Iraq.

“We are mindful that it cannot become ordinary course that the Iranians through their proxy forces in Iraq are putting the lives of Americans at risk,” he said.

He added that there “has to be accountability connected to those very serious attacks.”

Iran has also been blamed for a drone and missile strike on two Saudi Aramco facilities in September that temporarily shut down more than 5 percent of global oil supply.

Pompeo also said he would discuss a broad range of issues including the economic relationship between the two countries during his visit to the Kingdom. 

Last week, Saudi Arabia and the US celebrated the 75th anniversary of the USS Quincy meeting between President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz.

Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz met on board the USS Quincy in 1945 and the first encounter between a US president and a Saudi King laid the foundation for the broad strategic partnership shared by the two countries today.

After Riyadh, Pompeo will fly to Oman to meet the new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, on Friday.
Pompeo will offer condolences over the death of his predecessor Sultan Qaboos, who was the Arab world's longest-serving leader and served as a go-between for Iran and the United States.

*With AP