Crown Prince orders release of 850 Indian prisoners from Saudi jails on PM’s request

New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI) Saudi Arabis’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wednesday ordered the release of 850 Indian prisoners lodged in his country’s jails on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s request as the two leaders held extensive talks here, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.
Talking about Pulwama attack. the Saudi Prince said’ “Terrorism and extremism are “common concerns” and Saudi Arabia will extend all cooperation to India and other countries in the region to deal with them.”
A joint statement issued late evening said the prime minister and the crown prince condemned the attack in “the strongest terms” and affirmed that the menace of extremism and terrorism threatens all nations and societies.
During the talks, the two sides vowed to take economic cooperation to new heights with the statement, saying that Modi welcomed the crown prince’s announcement “to invest in the areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining, manufacturing, education and health, potentially worth in excess of USD 100 billion”.
The Modi-crown prince meeting took place two days after the influential Arab leader concluded a high-profile visit to Islamabad, and in the backdrop of escalating tension between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed by a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber.
In his statement, Modi called the attack a “cruel symbol” of the scourge of terrorism and sought punishment for terrorists and their backers. The crown prince, however, did not mention the Pulwama strike in his remarks.
After the talks, it was also announced that India has decided to extend e-Visa facility to Saudi nationals.
In an important development, Saudi Arabia also joined the International Solar Alliance, a move welcomed by the prime minister, MEA officials said.
Both sides noted the potential of cooperation in the renewable energy sector, not only in investment but also in research and development, a joint statement issued after the talks said.
In another significant move, Saudi Arabia has also agreed to resolve issues relating to Indian workers who are currently stranded in the kingdom due to the closure of a foreign company, T S Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the MEA, said.
The Prince also increased India’s Haj quota by about 25,000, the third hike in three years, taking the number of pilgrims from the country who can perform the pilgrimage to 2 lakh.

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