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India, Saudi Arabia hold joint Navy drills for first time to bolster defence ties

India, Saudi Arabia hold joint Navy drills for first time to bolster defence ties

As part of the strengthening of India-Saudi Arabia ties, the Navies of the two countries are holding a maiden bilateral military exercise 'AL – Mohed AL – Hindi.'  The exercise comprises a number of shore and sea-based exercises between the two friendly Navies and heralds a new phase in the defence ties between the two countries. 

Indian Navy officers met with counterparts of the Royal Saudi Navy for a co-ordinating conference at King Abdulaziz Naval base in Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia. For deeper understanding of each other’s operational practices, lectures by subject matter experts from both navies were also held, according to information provided by the Defence Ministry on Thursday. 

The Indian Navy's flagship destroyer INS Kochi is on a visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and India’s Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar set the ball rolling for closer ties with his visit to the Fleet Commander of Royal Saudi Navy's Eastern Fleet, Rear Admiral Majid Al Qahtani on Aug 10. 

Also read:  From Kenya to Guam, India outlines sphere of interest in the Indo-Pacific with string of naval exercises

This was held at King Abdul Aziz Naval Base, which is the Headquarters for Saudi Eastern Fleet. Rear Admiral Kochhar also visited the King Fahd Naval Academy and met with the Commandant Rear Admiral Faisal Bin Fahd Al Ghufaily.

On 11 Aug, the Indian Western Fleet Commander accompanied by the Indian Ambassador called on the Governor of Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Saud bin Nayef Al Saud at Dammam.

As part of the growing defence ties India’s Army chief General N.M. Naravane had also visited Saudi Arabia in December last year. 

India and Saudi Arabia have long enjoyed cordial relations, primarily driven by trade ties as India is one of the biggest buyers of oil from the kingdom. 

However, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s  two trips to Saudi Arabia in 2016 and 2019 and the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to India in 2019, there has been a further consolidation of bonds.

With Saudi Arabia now refusing to back Pakistan on Kashnir the way has been paved for stronger strategic ties with India.