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NEW DELHI : The security situation arising out of Afghanistan’s takeover by the Taliban was a major focus area of talks on Sunday between Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar and his Saudi counterpart Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud, who arrived in New Delhi on Saturday.

“Delighted to welcome FM of Saudi Arabia HH Prince @Faisalbinfarhan for his first ever visit to India," Jaishankar said in a Twitter post on Sunday, the first of a series.

“Urged early resumption of direct flights to Saudi Arabia. Agreed to work closely on all covid-related challenges, including to travel," he said in a second post.

The minister said in a third post that his meeting was “cordial and productive". “Discussed our cooperation in the political, security and socio-cultural pillars of our strategic partnership. Very useful exchange of views on Afghanistan, the Gulf and the Indo-Pacific," he posted.

The Saudi minister’s visit was the first since the coronavirus outbreak and “both ministers discussed all issues related to their bilateral relationship and regional and international issues of mutual interest", the Indian foreign ministry said.

“Both ministers exchanged views on the developments in Afghanistan and other regional issues," the ministry said, referring to the situation arising from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on 15 August.

The administration of the Taliban in Kabul is not an inclusive one, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said during the regional Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on Friday, putting a question mark on its legitimacy. The global community should decide “collectively" and “thoughtfully" on according recognition to the new administration in Kabul, he had said.

Saudi Arabia, along with Pakistan and the UAE, were the key backers of the Taliban regime that ruled Kabul from 1996 till 2001 when they were ousted by US-led international troops.

In recent years, India has moved to forge closer and more friendly ties with Saudi Arabia. In February 2019, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman paid a standalone visit to India, seen as a key turning point in ties. Modi also visited Saudi Arabia in 2019. India’s foreign ministry said Jaishankar and the visiting Saudi minister discussed bilateral cooperation in multilateral forums such as the UN, G-20 and Gulf Cooperation Council.

“The two ministers reviewed the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Council Agreement signed between the two sides during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in October 2019. They expressed satisfaction with the meetings held under the agreement and the progress achieved. Both sides discussed steps to strengthen their partnership in trade, investment, energy, defence, security, culture, consular issues, healthcare and human resources," the ministry said.

The Saudi foreign minister will meet Modi on Monday.

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