India and Saudi Arabia held their First Talk on Defence Ties
The first meeting of the India-Saudi Arabia joint committee on defence cooperation was held here on Monday and both sides discussed proposals for exchange of high – level visits, training and functional exchanges in various areas, a spokesperson of the Defence Ministry said.
The 11 member Saudi Arabian delegation was headed by Major General Suleiman Saleh Al-Khalifa, Chief of the Armed Forces Operations. The Indian team was led by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Defence.
The establishment of the joint committee was decided during the meeting the Defence Minister A.K. Antony had with Saudi Defence Minister ( now the Crown Prince ) Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in Saudi Arabia in February.
Mr. Antony’s visit on February 13-14 was the first-ever by an Indian Defence Minister to the Kingdom. The foundation for a strong bilateral relationship was laid by visits by King Abdullah to India in 2006 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Riyadh in 2010. According to a commentary by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, Mr. Antony’s visit provided a thrust for New Delhi’s defence diplomacy in the Gulf region.
India has been engaging with other regional countries such as Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar by signing defence cooperation agreements and conducting regular exchanges and high-level meetings. Defence cooperation between Saudi Arabia and India has not received adequate attention.
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