07:52 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Saudi King Salman (R) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    Bonhomie With Saudi Arabia: Is India Risking Its Ties With Iran?

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    Controversy erupts as Saudi Arabia manipulates joint statement on terrorism. Experts warn it could cripple India's investment ambitions in Iran.

    The joint statement issued at the end of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to Saudi Arabia has triggered a major controversy with both sides perceiving the statement differently.

    Issued on April 3, the statement calls upon, "All states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries; dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they happen to exist and to cut off any kind of support and financing to the terrorists operating and perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states; and bring perpetrators of acts of terrorism to justice".

    India perceived this as an oblique reference to Pakistan and hoped that it would give a major boost to the cooperation on counter terrorism. However, media reports claim that as per a Saudi Arabian official, they read the statement as largely aimed at Iran, which they believe, is fostering sectarian violence in the Kindgom, signaling their reluctance to consider the statement as a blanket remark on terrorism worldwide. This has watered down India's expectations vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia's support in controlling Pakistan's terror activities on Indian soil.

    Former Foreign Secretary of India Shashank said, "We do not encourage any country to carry out terrorist activities anywhere. Our position is very uniform. Saudi Arabia's position; it is not uniform; if you feel that it is only with regard to Iran but not with anyone else and they would support Pakistani terrorist activities in India then we will have to ask Saudi Arabia not to support Pakistan and help us".

    If Saudi Arabia chooses to use this statement to counter Iran at any platform, it would not go down well with India.

    West Asia expert from Observer Research Foundation Kanchi Gupta said, "It would depend per se on how India would vote on something like this. India would either veto it or abstain from something like this because India has never associated Iran with Terrorism until now. What will impact relations between India and Iran more will be India's engagement with GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) which has been more compared to high level engagement with Iran. It is expected that if we deepen our engagement with the GCC and develop more strategic ties with them, then it will impact our relationship with Iran because they would definitely want to wean us away from Iran."

    India-Iran relationship received a jolt last year with Iran rejecting India's bid to develop the Farzad B gas field and threatened to allocate the Chabahar port development project to another country. The latest development is likely to deal a major blow to India's ambition to bag other multi-billion infrastructure projects in Iran.

     

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