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Saudi crown prince meets Pakistani premier and stresses India-Pakistan dialogue

April 8, 2024 at 3:24 pm

Mohammed Bin Salman, Prime Minister and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia [Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said that dialogue was needed to resolve heightened friction between arch-rivals Pakistan and India during a meeting in Riyadh with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Reuters has reported.

Sharif was making his first overseas visit since winning the Pakistan election in February. He met with Bin Salman on Sunday.

“The two sides stressed the importance of dialogue between Pakistan and India to resolve the outstanding issues between the two countries, especially the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to ensure peace and stability in the region,” a joint statement released by Pakistan’s foreign office and the Saudi government pointed out.

The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir is claimed in full, although ruled in part by both India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947. The neighbouring states have fought two of their three wars over the territory.

Always-fragile relations between India and Pakistan have worsened since a 2019 suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy in Kashmir was traced to Pakistan-based militants. This led New Delhi to carry out an air strike on what it said was a militant base in Pakistan.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday that India would enter Pakistan to kill anyone who escapes over the border after trying to carry out militant activities in the country. Singh was speaking a day after Britain’s Guardian published a report stating that the Indian government had killed about 20 people in Pakistan since 2020 as part of a broader plan to eliminate militants living on foreign soil.

India has longstanding friendly relations with Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia. These links have strengthened under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is widely expected to win a third term in office in elections starting on 19 April.

Sharif and Bin Salman also discussed expediting a planned $5 billion investment package, which cash-strapped Pakistan needs desperately to shore up its current account deficit and signal to the International Monetary Fund that it can continue to meet requirements for foreign financing that has been a key demand in previous bailout packages.

Pakistan said in January that it had credible evidence linking Indian agents to the killing of two of its citizens on its soil. India described this as “false and malicious” propaganda.

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