India and Saudi Arabia to hold bilateral naval drills

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India is planning to hold its first-ever joint naval exercise with Saudi Arabia amid tension in and around the Persian Gulf region.

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi is set to visit Saudi Arabia next week. During his visit, he is expected to discuss with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia ways to step up bilateral defence cooperation.

In a media briefing leading up to the visit of the India Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia on October 29, TS Tiramurti, Secretary (ER) of Ministry of External Affairs said “This is the first joint naval exercise between two navies. Two prime ministers will have intensive discussions on security and economic issues.”

India is going to hold the inaugural naval exercise with Saudi Arabia at a time when the tension in and around the Persian Gulf heightened as a consequence of United States re-imposing sanctions on Iran on November 4, 2018. The US re-imposed sanctions on Iran on November 4, 2018. The US re-imposed sanctions on Iran almost six months after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to withdraw from the deal, which the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (US, China, France, UK and Russia), Germany and European Union had inked with Tehran in 2015 to end the row over the controversial nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic.

Though India’s naval exercise with Saudi Arabia is likely to raise the hackles of Iran, New Delhi seems set to go ahead. India already drastically slashed its energy imports from Iran.

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