India, Saudi Arabia to deepen counter-terror cooperation

Salman KhurshidExternal Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. (IE Photo)

India and Saudi Arabia have decided to further strengthen and deepen their counter-terrorism cooperation, nearly a year after Riyadh deported Abu Jundal, wanted in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack.

The counter-terrorism issue is emerging as a key area of cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is concerned about the rise of extremism in the region, including in Pakistan, notwithstanding their close ties.

"We discussed the menace of terrorism the world continues to face and agreed to further strengthen our counter-terrorism cooperation which is an essential element of the Riyadh Declaration we signed in 2010," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said yesterday after a marathon meeting with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

"Our cooperation would not only benefit our two countries but also contribute significantly to the stability and security of the entire region and beyond," he said after the meeting which lasted nearly three hours.

On his part, Saudi Foreign Minister said, "I would like to praise the productive, constructive cooperation between our two countries in the fight against terrorism, which will undoubtedly contribute to the international efforts to fight this disease and root it out."

Khurshid, who is currently on an official visit here, said that the security and stability in the Arabian Peninsula is closely linked to the security in South Asia.

Official sources said that counter-terrorism cooperation and security are "one of the major areas" of cooperation that has grown since 2006.

According to sources in security agencies, despite some people feeling otherwise, Saudi Arabia is equally concerned about the rise of extremism and terrorism.

The relations between India and Saudi Arabia, which has a very close ties with Pakistan, has seen an upswing in areas of trade, economy, political exchange and security.

Last year, the Saudi government had helped India apprehend two key terror suspects, including Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal.

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