Press Trust of india

Reduction in Indo-Pak tension will throw up tremendous opportunities: Saudi FM

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‘Resolve Kashmir politically in a way that serves India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir’

New Delhi, Feb 24: The Kashmir issue should be resolved politically in a way that serves India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir has said, amid a war of words between the two neighbours over the Pulwama attack.

The Saudi foreign minister also pitched for steps to reduce tension between the two countries, saying it will open up “tremendous opportunities” for both India and Pakistan.

“I believe that there ought to be a way to resolve the issue politically in a way that serves India that serves Pakistan and that serves the people of Kashmir,” Al-Jubeir told PTI in an interview last week.

He was here as part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s delegation.

Tensions between India and Pakistan soared after a suicide car bomber belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed militant killed 49 CRPF personnel in the worst such attack in decades.

“I think where there is a goodwill and where there is trust, possibilities open up. But with suspicion and lack of goodwill, you have distrust, and when you have distrust, everything is frozen and tension rises,” the Saudi foreign minister said.

“We are hoping that people will recognise that this is an issue that can be resolved peacefully in a way that serves everybody’s interests. I believe if you reduce tensions between India and Pakistan, it will open up tremendous opportunities for both the countries to focus on investment and development rather than on security,” he added.

After the Pulwama attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said “security forces have been given a free hand to decide on the timing, place and nature of their response”, while Islamabad said it will adequately respond to any action by New Delhi.

The Saudi foreign minister also said his country will “consider playing a role” to mediate and de-escalate tension between India and Pakistan if both countries want.

“Nobody wants to see armed conflict between two nuclear powers. Nobody benefits except terrorists. I believe the leadership recognises it. It is our hope that issues can be resolved peacefully,” he said.

Al-Jubeir felt the leadership in both Pakistan and India were sincere in improving ties with each other.

“I believe Prime Minister Imran Khan wants to have better relations with India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to have better relations with Pakistan,” he said.

“The issue is how do you build trust and confidence between the two countries that will allow them to move forward in a way that protects both countries, and in a way that defeats extremists groups and terrorists groups that may operate in one country or the other,” Al-Jubeir said.

Asked about Saudi Arabia’s overall ties with India, he said, “We are very bullish on the relationship. I believe that fundamentally, the two countries are philosophically aligned.”

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