JEDDAH: In a historic first, Royal Saudi Land Forces commander Lt. Gen. Fahd bin Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mutair arrived in New Delhi on Monday.
Both Saudi Arabia and India share common security concerns and strive to be strategic defense partners by being major regional players.
On Tuesday, India’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. M.M. Naravane received Lt. Gen. Al-Mutair in the South Block lawns of India’s Ministry of Defense, where the latter was presented with a customary guard of honor.
The chiefs, along with their respective delegations, held discussions to review the present state of military cooperation and issues of mutual interest.
Al-Mutair also met with officials of the Indian Armed Forces.
Building on relations following the historic visit of the chief of the Indian Army in December 2020, both commanders have spoken regularly to monitor the progress of a mutually agreed-upon roadmap of bilateral relations.
Defense relations between the two countries have seen a notable upswing in the last year with a series of high-level interactions and the first bilateral naval exercise, “Al-Mohed Al-Hindi,” conducted in August 2021 in Jubail, in the Eastern Province.
Despite COVID-19 travel restrictions, officers from both the Royal Saudi Armed Forces and the Indian Armed Forces are undergoing training in various military institutes of the two countries.
“This year, we expect more exchanges and training activities to be conducted between the two friendly countries,” said India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dr. Ausaf Sayeed.
“New areas of cooperation are being mutually identified, including intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism, artificial intelligence and cyber security, in addition to conducting the first-ever land forces exercise in the second half of 2022,” he said.
As India celebrates 75 years since establishing its diplomatic relations with the Kingdom, Sayeed explained, defense cooperation remains one of the key pillars of bilateral relations between the two countries.
“King Salman’s vision was to provide a major impetus to defense relations, which he himself elevated to a new level by signing the Memorandum of Defense Cooperation in 2014,” he said.
“Since then, there have been numerous positive initiatives under the guidance of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” he added.