By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter
India is looking forward to further strengthen its existing co-operation in the area of defence with GCC nations and the ongoing goodwill visits by four naval ships of its Western Fleet to the region, is in the framework of the country’s excellent long-standing relations with the respective states, said Indian Ambassador to Qatar Sanjiv Arora.
Interacting with journalists yesterday on board INS Tabar, the third of the three Talwar class frigates of the Indian navy, which has called on the Doha port for a four-day visit, the envoy said the visit of the ships is another positive development in the defence relations between India and the region’s states.
Another ship INS Aditya has also arrived in Doha. The other two vessels of the foursome, INS Mysore and INS Tarkash have headed to Kuwait and the four will join in the UAE on September 15.
Among the things on the agenda is the renewal of the defence ties with Qatar at a two-day meeting of the Joint Committee of the Defence Co-operation (JCDC) to be held in Doha on September 15 and 16. The third meeting of the joint commission is being held after the first two meetings held in Doha (2008) and New Delhi (2011). Arora also recalled the agreement in defence co-operation between India and Qatar, and concluded in Qatar during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2008.
While expecting the strengthening of bilateral relations between his country and GCC states, the envoy hoped the visit of the naval ships could be mutually beneficial to the partners and said that it is taking place because of the enormous patronage extended to the naval ships and their crew by their counterparts in the region.
Acknowledging the support and hospitality extended to the team from India by the State of Qatar and Emiri Navy, the ambassador said the visitors would be calling on the Commander and senior officials of the Emiri Navy during their visit.
Arora informed that the two naval ships from India would be accorded a ceremonial farewell by their Qatari naval counterparts at the “Passex” parade to be held before they head towards the UAE in the morning on September 13.
The diplomat said a joint four-day naval exercise of India and Oman with the participation of the Royal Navy of the Sultanate of Oman, “Naseem al-Behr” is scheduled to be held there between September 23 and 26. Prior to this, the ships will call on the Muscat port on a four-day visit starting from September 19. Elaborating further, the ambassador said India, which has the largest resident navy in the Indian Ocean is sharing its expertise and experience with its friendly GCC neighbours through such goodwill visits and hence his country sees a great opportunity in strengthening co-operation with the respective Gulf states.
Arora said at the meetings that he had with Qatar’s Minister of State for Defence HE Major General Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah and Chief of the Staff of the Qatar Armed Forces HE Ghanim bin Shaheen al-Ghanim, they had extended support to the goodwill visits by the Indian ships. Later, the Commander of the INS Tabar Captain S Venkatraman said he and his team were extremely happy at the patronage and co-operation extended by Qatar’s Emiri Navy to their ongoing visit.
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