Wednesday 29, June 2022

India calls Saudi army chief’s first visit ‘historic and landmark’

Says it will deepen defence cooperation between the countries

In a first-ever visit to India by a serving Royal Saudi Land Forces Commander, Lt Gen Fahd Bin Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mutair wrapped up a three-day tour -- from February 14 -- that New Delhi says gave a major boost to expanding bilateral military cooperation.

The Indian Defence Ministry was effusive about the visit by the Saudi General, terming it "historic and landmark" that "marks a deepening bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries."

Lt Gen Fahd Bin Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mutair was received by Indian Army Chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane on February 15 at the South Block in New Delhi where he was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

The visiting General met the Indian Army chief "for significant bilateral discussions and was briefed on security aspects," the Indian Defence Ministry said.

"The relationship between India and Saudi Arabia has grown owing to common interests in economic prosperity, eliminating the scourge of terrorism and mitigating the effects of climate change," it said in a statement.

Defence diplomacy forms one of the major tenets of the overall India-Saudi Arabia relationship.

Gen Naravane had visited Saudi Arabia in December 2020, which was the first time an Indian Army chief was on an official tour of that country.

In April last year, navies of India and Saudi Arabia carried out bilateral military exercise in the Persian Gulf and the two countries also held their first naval drill named "Al Mohed Al Hind" in August last year.

Saudi Arabia is among the 46 countries invited for the Milan series of military exercise being hosted by the Indian Navy later this month.

As part of New Delhi's increasing defence outreach to Persian Gulf countries, Gen Naravane had visited the United Arab Emirates where he had met his counterparts and senior military leadership of the UAE. It was also the first time an Indian Army chief toured the UAE. The two countries had held a naval exercise.

The Times of India reported that India is in talks with Saudi Arabia regarding cooperation on defence hardware.

It said the discussions between the Saudi commander and senior Indian military leadership included potential areas in which the Indian defence units could help Saudi Arabia's military hardware needs.