Saudi Prince Salman meets Modi; Congress slams PM for 'protocol-breaking' welcome
New Delhi, Feb 20: Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also popularly known as MBS, met Modi on Wednesday with his business mission under threat of being overshadowed by soaring tensions between India and Pakistan.
Earlier in the day, President Ram Nath Kovind accorded ceremonial welcome to Saudi Crown Prince Salman at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi ahead of his scheduled bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prince Salman arrived in the national capital on Tuesday evening on a two-day visit to India.
Breaking protocol, Prime Minister Modi went to visit the Prince at the airport. Ordinarily, the prime minister would send an official or a junior government minister. Earlier, on Sunday, MBS was not only received by the Pakistan Prime Minister but Imran Khan also drove him to his house.
Meanwhile, Opposition Congress party in a tweet slammed Modi's 'protocol-breaking' welcome to the Prince, "By breaking protocol and welcoming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman with such abundance - only hours after he promised billions to Pakistan - PM Modi has shown the country, the martyrs and every soldier in India what he thinks of their service & sacrifice."
By breaking protocol and welcoming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman with such abundance - only hours after he promised billions to Pakistan - PM Modi has shown the country, the martyrs and every soldier in India what he thinks of their service & sacrifice. pic.twitter.com/YPJa2Q1cFT— Congress (@INCIndia) February 20, 2019
The Saudi Prince had wrapped up his high-profile Pakistan visit last evening, the first stop on his south Asia and China tour, where he vowed to "de-escalate" tensions between the two neighbours over the terror attack in south Kashmir's Pulwama.
The crown prince - widely known as MBS - returned to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan and after spending a few hours back home, took a 3,000 km flight back to the Indian subcontinent.
Ties between the two countries have strengthened since PM Modi's Riyadh in 2016 to sign an agreement on cooperation with intelligence-gathering on money laundering and terrorism financing.
The crown prince's schedule - his quick trip to Riyadh from Islamabad rather than flying from Islamabad to Delhi - was a reflection of the Saudi leadership's appreciation of India's sensitivities.