Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud arrived on Saturday on a three-day visit during which he is expected to discuss with Indian leaders the situation in Afghanistan as well ways to boost bilateral ties. According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Al Saud will hold talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday and call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
“H.H. Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, arrived in New Delhi today evening,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted. Al Saud is scheduled to leave for New York on Monday evening. The Saudi foreign minister’s India visit comes at a time India has been engaged with all leading powers on the developments in Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban.
People familiar with the visit said Afghanistan is expected to be a major focus of the talks between Jaishankar and Al Saud. Being a major regional player, Saudi Arabia’s position on the developments in Kabul assumes significance as several countries in the Gulf region including Qatar and Iran were playing a role in the Afghan peace process before the Taliban’s capture of power.
In the Gulf region, India has been in touch with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran over the unfolding developments in Afghanistan. In reflection of India’s views on the matter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the global community should decide “collectively” and “thoughtfully” on according recognition to the new set-up in Afghanistan in view of questions over its acceptability as the change of power was not “inclusive”.
He made the remarks during a virtual address at a meeting on Afghanistan of the heads of state of the SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. The defence and security ties between India and Saudi Arabia are witnessing gradual expansion. Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane visited Saudi Arabia in December last in the first-ever visit by a head of the 1.3 million-strong Army to the strategically important Gulf nation. Gen Naravane held extensive talks with senior military officials of that country with an aim to enhance bilateral defence cooperation.