NEW DELHI: With an aim to consolidate naval ties with Arab nations and to explore new avenues for defence cooperation, navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba is leaving on a five-day visit to the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Bilateral defence interaction between India and UAE has been witnessing a steady growth since defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to Gulf nation last year in May during which two nations had inked a MoU on the Mutual Protection of Classified Information along with other defence cooperation agreements. The Indian Navy cooperates with both the navies of UAE and Oman on many fronts, which include training and operational interactions.
The Crown Prince of UAE Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan was the chief guest for the last month’s Republic Day parade, an honour India gives to countries it considers key to its diplomacy.
A navy statement issued on Saturday evening maintained that Admiral Lanba's first destination will be the UAE where he will hold talks with Minister of State for Defence Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bowardi, Chief of Staff, UAE Armed Forces Lt General Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, and Commander of UAE Naval Forces Rear Admiral Ibrahim Salim Mohammed Al Musharrakh.
"The visit aims to consolidate bilateral naval relations with UAE and Oman, as also to explore new avenues for naval cooperation," the navy spokesperson said in the statement.
In UAE, Admiral Lamba will visit the Ghantoot Naval Base as well as National Defence College where he will interact with the student officers. He will also tour the training facilities at the Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Naval College.
On the second leg of his trip, he will visit Oman from March 1-2 where he will hold bilateral talks Bader Bin Saud Bin Harib Al Busaidi, Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs of Oman, as also with the three service chiefs. The Admiral will visit the Sultan Qaboos Naval Academy and the Said Bin Naval Base where he will also visit the Fleet Maintenance Facility and the latest Khareef Class corvette, RNOV Al Shamikh.
Indian navy also claim that it cooperates with UAE's navy through Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) and through the Joint Military Cooperation Committee (JMCC) with Oman, the ministry said.
In addition, the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman have been conducting the bilateral Maritime Exercise 'Naseem Al Bahr' since 1993. 10 editions have been held so far, the last being held off Goa on January 16.
Both countries are also exploring possibilities of Indian defence manufacturers selling military equipment to the UAE.