Antony visiting Saudi Arabia to bolster defence ties

Antony visiting Saudi Arabia to bolster defence ties

A high-profile delegation led by Defence Minister A K Antony is visiting Saudi Arabia to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues, especially the possibilities of cooperation in the defence sector.

Anthony will meet Saudi Arabia's Defence Minister Prince Salman tomorrow. He will be accompanied by Defence Secretary Shashi K Sharma, Vice Chief of Army Staff S K Singh, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Satish Soni and Air Vice Marshal M R Pawar.

A special plane carrying Antony and his delegation will land in Riyadh this afternoon, an Indian Embassy official told Arab News. India and Saudi Arabia have not endorsed any defence agreement so far but have been having regular exchanges of defence related visits and interactions.

In Riyadh, Antony will discuss with top Saudi officials possibilities for bolstering defence ties, military-to- military relations apart from the issue of terrorism and piracy in the region, a statement released by India's Ministry of Defence said.

The embassy official said Antony will hold discussions with some senior Saudi officials with an aim to pave the way for enhanced defence interaction, especially in areas of training and technical exchanges.

The visit is expected to enable both sides to engage in discussions on "areas where existing cooperation can be expanded to mutual benefit." 

Antony will also be interacting with the representatives of Indian community in Saudi Arabia, said the embassy official.

A defence delegation from India also visited Riyadh in October last year and expressed a keen interest to build strong bilateral military ties based on the new strategic realities of Asia and the changing political alliances in the Middle East.