India seeks Saudi pressure on Pakistan against terror (Second Lead)

December 26th, 2008 - 11:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 26 (IANS) Saudi Arabia, a key ally of Pakistan, Friday joined the growing list of nations rallying behind India in the wake of the Mumbai attacks as New Delhi urged Riyadh to persuade Pakistan to wipe out terror infrastructure in that country. Describing terrorism is “a cancer”, Riyadh proposed the creation of a global agency to deal jointly with terror strikes like 26/11 in Mumbai that killed 179 people, including 26 foreigners.

“The Saudi dignitary conveyed sympathies and deep condolences on behalf of the custodian of the two holy mosques, on his own behalf and on behalf of the people of Saudi Arabia,” the Indian external affairs ministry said in a statement here.

“It was agreed that terrorism was a global challenge and had to be dealt with jointly by all nations,” the ministry said after talks between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his visiting Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

Mukherjee shared evidence of the complicity of elements in Pakistan in the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks and urged Saudi Arabia to use its influence over Pakistan to rein in extremists, official sources said.

Mukherjee “communicated the sense of outrage among the people of India at the audacious and meticulously planned attack mounted by elements based in Pakistan”, the ministry said.

“Terrorism is a cancer, we need to cut it out and destroy completely so that tragedies like Mumbai are not repeated again,” said the Saudi foreign minister while proposing to the United Nations to set up a special international agency to jointly fight the menace of terrorism.

Terrorists would like to sow dissension and create conflict, he stressed. The Saudi foreign minister also underlined that he wanted to come to India a day after the Mumbai attacks, but Indian authorities advised him to defer his visit.

“In the meeting it was agreed that global terrorism has to be dealt with through joint action by all countries,” Mukherjee told reporters after the talks.

“Whatever action has to be taken to control terrorism should be taken without further delay and with transparency,” he said while asking Pakistan to “take immediate steps” to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism.

“It’s not an issue between India and Pakistan but a global problem,” the minister stressed.

Saudi Arabia, which enjoys close links with Washington, has been a key ally of Pakistan in the Muslim world and has enormous clout over the powers-that-be in that country.

New Delhi also sought Riyadh’s support in clamping down on the financing of terrorists, some of whom use Saudi charities and other fronts for generating funds for terrorist activities in India, the sources said.

Mukherjee also invoked transformed ties between India and Saudi Arabia following King Abdullah’s visit to New Delhi in 2006 and sought Riyadh’s support in putting pressure on Islamabad.

The Saudi foreign minister, who was on a day-long visit to India, also met Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan before leaving for Riyadh in the evening.

The two sides reviewed an entire spectrum of bilateral relations, including expanding trade which has exceeded 16 billion and enhanced cooperation in various sectors including IT, human resource development, energy and petrochemicals.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to visit Saudi Arabia early next year. He was set to go to Riyadh last month, but had to defer his plan due to prior commitments of the Saudi king.

India and Saudi Arabia signed an all-encompassing Delhi Declaration in 2006 and inked a pact on combating terrorism. This was the third visit from a Muslim country since the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks.

Oman’s Foreign Minister Yusuf Bin Alawai Bin Abdullah and Iran’s deputy foreign minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhondzadeh visited New Delhi last week and asked Pakistan to intensify its efforts to crack down on terror outfits.

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