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OIC: Saudi king hopes Pakistan will sponsor India

January 23, 2006

NEW DELHI, Jan 22: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has expressed the hope that Pakistan would sponsor India’s membership as an observer of the OIC even as he called on the two countries to resolve their differences. In a rare interview to India’s NDTV news channel King Abdullah did not name Kashmir as the dispute but left no doubt that he was seriously concerned about the issue. “I do believe that India can play a role in such an organisation, just like Russia does. Russia has an observer status in the Organisation of Islamic Conference and I believe that it will be very beneficial if the application of India could be put forth by a country such as Pakistan,” said the king.

Asked whether his country’s ties with Pakistan had impeded relations with India, the monarch said: “You are correct. The issue of Pakistan has had an impact on Saudi-India relations. I believe that the conflict that exists, the complication that exists, do not help the image of either country.” He said Pakistan is a “brotherly country and friendly country with which we have great ties.”

On the other hand, he said, India is a friendly country with which the kingdom has historic ties. “There is no doubt that the relationship of Saudi Arabia with Pakistan is a great relationship.”

He said Saudi Arabia was not funding terrorism directly or indirectly against India or any other country through its funds in Pakistan.

About his present visit to China, he said ties with China and India were not to come about at the expense of the United States its old ally and solid friend.

Hinting at a deeper partnership with India, King Abdullah admitted that current oil prices were too high and thus hurting developing countries. He said Saudi Arabia had the ability to meet any requirement that India may have for its energy security.

“We want to strengthen the link between India and Saudi Arabia with regards to energy and the ability to provide energy to India over the long term. From our perspective I personally feel that the current price of oil is too high.

“The price is damaging to developing countries who subsequently have to suffer. The price needs to be at a more moderate level. With regards to the export of crude oil to India, we would like to provide India’s requirement of energy in the future,” he said.

He also said he would like to move ahead with reforms in all areas, such as women’s rights. But he felt his country needed to be ready for this.

The king will arrive in New Delhi on Jan 24 and will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.