Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud gave Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a very warm welcome last weekend in a public tilt of Saudi policy toward New Delhi and away from its traditional ally Pakistan. Economic interests are part of the tilt, but so too is Saudi pique at Pakistan's refusal to back its military adventure in Yemen.
Modi and the Saudis signed five new bilateral agreements to improve relations, covering intelligence sharing on terrorism financing, increasing private investment and enhancing defense cooperation. Salman bestowed the King Abdul Aziz Order of Merit medal on the prime minister; it is the kingdom's highest honor and has never been given to a purely civilian Pakistani leader (although it was given in 2007 to President Pervez Musharraf, a general who ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a 1999 coup). Modi in turn gave the king a gold replica of the Cheraman Juma Masjid mosque in Kerala, the first mosque in India, dating from the seventh century, and a symbol of trade between Arabia and the Indian subcontinent.