India and Saudi Arabia to Conduct Joint Naval and Military Exercises and Help Eliminate Piracy
|India is taking diplomatic steps to ensure greater cooperation in the Middle East with its latest plan to hold joint naval and military exercises with Saudi Arabia. The process of increasing defence ties with Saudi Arabia will be corroborated by the Indian Defence Minister, A.K.Anthony’s planned visit to Saudi Arabia this month.|
While India and Saudi Arabia have fomented strategic geo-political and defence ties over the years, a much more substantial approach in the area of maritime cooperation is aimed for mutual benefit besides augmenting other military capabilities. Recently, the Indian Navy’s Vice Admiral K.N. Sushil had described the Saudi Arabia’s Navy as one of the finest in the world and called them to join hands in warding off piracy in Arabian Sea region. Saudi Arabia also is part of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium initiative by India which aims to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the world.
According to sources, the Indian Army has agreed to hold joint military exercises in Saudi Arabia with the Royal Saudi Land Force. In fact, there are talks of India establishing a mountain warfare training school to help Riyadh improve their offensive and defensive capabilities. Hopefully, all these issues will be taken up during the two day visit by Indian Defence Minister.
India and Saudi Arabia have been interacting regularly to improve strategic ties and last year, the Vice Chief of the Indian Army, Lt. Gen. Milan Naidu, visited Riyadh and met the commanders of land and air defense forces besides other dignitaries. Even the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Riyadh and there has been enhanced interaction and better cooperation in the fields of training, technical assistance and military hardware ever since.
Currently, the threat and disruption cause by piracy has become the main reason for sustaining joint military ties between India and Saudi Arabia and the need to have a collective strategy and resources. As of now, 14 navies of the world are conducting anti-piracy patrols along the Somali coast and India and Saudi Arabia will be contributing to ward off this terror.
At present, naval ship INS Tir is currently anchored at the port of Jubail along with the INS Krishna and ICGS Veera as part of a goodwill visit to Saudi Arabia. Indian Navy Vice Admiral K.N. Sushil has called for joint and sustained efforts to eliminate piracy off the coast of Somalia. This will affirm India’s presence and interest in the region of Arabian Ocean. Since both countries have mutual interest in security considering the threat perception from neighbouring countries as well as from piracy, it is natural that they are aiming at training programs and joint exercises and dialogue at different levels on issues from which both nations can benefit.