The first-ever joint naval exercise between India and Saudi Arabia will take place in December. Briefing the media ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit the Gulf nation on Oct 29, TS Tirumurti, Secretary (ER), Ministry of External Affairs said, “This is the first joint naval exercise between the two navies. Two leaders Prime Minister Modi and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will have intensive discussions on security and economic issues.”
According to the top MEA official, in the presence of the two leaders, the first Strategic Partnership Council will be announced which would include their foreign and commerce ministers. The council will meet every two years. ”
The two countries have also decided to work together with other Indian Ocean Rim Countries for enhancing maritime security which is critical for the security and safe passage for international trade. India is already a traditional player in the region and Saudi Arabia is seeking a presence in the Indian Ocean.
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Earlier this year both leaders had at the end of talks decided to hold the inaugural joint naval exercises at the earliest and had also agreed to further expand bilateral exercises in other domains. Inline with Make in India initiative and `Vision 2030’, the two countries are interested in cooperating and collaborating in joint production of spare parts for naval and land systems as well as supply chain development.
At the Fourth Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation held in Riyadh on January 2-3 this year it was decided that the there will be a “Comprehensive Security Dialogue” will be constituted where the National Security Advisors would set up a Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, for enhanced collaborative efforts and real-time intelligence sharing for mutual benefits.
These are in addition to the efforts including a range of security issues, including maritime security, law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal migration, and other transnational organized crimes.