Editorial : Mixed optics: Saudi Crown Prince’s India visit

The Saudi Crown Prince’s visit highlighted the complexities in bilateral ties
As a standalone visit, the day-long trip(दिन भर की यात्रा) of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (MBS) to New Delhi will be regarded(मानना) as a diplomatic(राजनयिक/नीति संबंधी) success, given the numerous(अनेक/कई )outcomes(परिणाम). After talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the two sides announced(घोषणा ) measures(उपाय कार्यवाही) to

upgrade the defence partnership, create a “Strategi(सामरिक/महत्वपूर्ण) Partnership(साझेदारी ) Council(परिषद /समिति)” to coordinate(समन्वय/समकक्ष) on security issues(सुरक्षा मुद्दों ), and institute regular talks between the two national security advisers(सलाहकार) to discuss counter-terrorism(आतंकवाद के विरुद्ध,), intelligence-sharing and maritime security(समुद्री सुरक्षा।). Saudi Arabia has also expressed(व्यक्त) its interest(रुचि) in investing(निवेश ) in infrastructure projects worth about $26 billion. This is beyond(परे/ऊपर) its already committed investments in India of $44 billion for the existing(मौजूदा ) joint(संयुक्त) venture(व्यापार/जोखिम का काम ) with the public sector oil undertakings and public fund investments of $10 billion. The language on terrorism in the joint statement was something of a dampener(हतोत्साहित) for those who would have hoped there would be stronger(कड़ी)condemnation(निंदा) ) of the terror attack in Pulwama. But it was significant that the Saudi government agreed(सहमत/अनुकूल हुआ) to insert an extra(अतिरिक्त ) clause(वाक्यांश/खण्ड) calling on states to renounce(त्याग करना/दूर करना) the “use of terrorism as an instrument(साधन) of state policy”. It also acknowledged that disputes(विवादों/विचार) between India and Pakistan must be resolved bilaterally(द्विपक्षीय ). At the leadership level, Mr. Modi extended(बढ़ा दिया/विस्तारित) more than a personal touch to the visit by going to the airport and embracing(संमिलित करना/गले) the Crown Prince on landing. The prince repaid the compliment(तारीफ/प्रशंसा), agreeing(सहमति) to increase Haj quotas and release 850 Indians from Saudi jails after a plea from Mr. Modi.
These announcements(घोषणाएं ) and gestures(संकेत/इशारा) would have been far more significant had it not been for the fact that MBS’s trip came on the heels of his visit to Pakistan just after(ठीक बाद ) the Pulwama attack. As a result, his India visit is being measured against the statements made during his Pakistan visit, where he praised(प्रशंसा की) Islamabad for its fight against terrorism. He also announced $20 billion worth of investments, in addition(इसके अलावा/वृद्धि) to previously announced aid of $6 billion in cash(नकदी ) and reserves(भंडार). While such comparisons(तुलना ) may be unwarranted(अनुचित /नाजायज), the visit to Delhi would have benefited(फायदा ) in terms(शर्तें) of optics(प्रकाशिकी) if it hadn’t been preceded(पहले/बेहतर ) so closely(बारीकी /नज़दीक) by the one to Islamabad. The Modi government also overplayed(पानी फेर दिया) itsexpectations(उम्मीदों ) from the visit by billing it as part of a diplomatic(राजनयिक ) offensive(रोषकारी/आक्रामक) aimed at ‘isolating(अलग कर देना)’ Pakistan in order to hold it to account for Pulwama. India and Saudi Arabia have steadily(तेजी से/बराबर या व्यवस्थित रुप से ) built(बनाए) bilateral(संबंध) relations and taken great care over the past two decades(दशक) to ‘de-hyphenate’ them from ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. India-Saudi Arabia ties were strengthened(मजबूत किया) into a strategic partnership announced in 2010 in the Riyadh Declaration(घोषणा) when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid a visit, and were bolstered by King Salman’s visit in February 2014 and Mr. Modi’s 2016 trip to Saudi Arabia. Point-scoring with Pakistan, or attempting(प्रयास करने से/आज़माना) to compare the outcomes of the two visits, now only undermines the carefully built compact(समझौता) between New Delhi and Riyadh.

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