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There has been a steady growth in defence co-operation between India and Qatar in the last six years, according to the Indian ambassador to Qatar Sanjiv Arora.
Speaking on board the Indian Coast Guard Ship Vijit, which is on a four-day visit of Qatar, the ambassador said since the visit of former prime minister Manmohan Singh in November 2008, several initiatives have been taken by the two countries to strengthen defence co-operation.
Vijit, from the North Western Command of the Coast Guards is stationed in off Porbander in Gujarat.
The two countries signed an agreement on defence co-operation in 2008 for five years, which was renewed for another five years last year. Since then, there have been three meetings of the Joint Committee on Defence Co-operation between officials of the two countries, alternatively in India and Qatar. The next meeting will be held on January 6 and 7, in New Delhi.
The visit of Vijit is the fourth by an Indian vessel to Qatar, the ambassador said. Last year Coast Guard’s anti-pollution vessel Samudra Prahari and two ships of the Indian Navy, INS Tabr and INS Aditya called on Doha Port.
“The latest visit by the Coast Guard vessel to Qatar is to reaffirm’s India’s deep-rooted, long standing and multi-faceted relations with this country,” Arora said, adding the visit was planned in a way that it could reach the country soon after its National Day celebrations.
The vessel arrived on Saturday and will leave tomorrow. Arora also said Qatar could consider investing in India’s defence manufacturing and training facilities. He said India has hiked Foreign Direct Investment in the defence sector from 26 % to 49%.
Arora said Indian Coast Guards has built world class training and support facilities and added these facilities are also being used by the coast guards of many friendly countries.
While thanking HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Father Emir HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani for their continued support to the large Indian community in Qatar, Arora said India regarded this country in great esteem. Nearly 60% of India’s energy requirements are met from Qatar’s exports, he added.
Qatar and India, he said, are keen on strengthening defence co-operation and nowhere is it more evident than in the delegations from the two countries participating regularly in defence level conferences.
Vijit’s Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector General Rakesh Pal said in less than six years there has been quadruple growth in the strength of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guards which had only about 40 ships in 2008, now has close to 150 different varieties of vessels, besides 64 aircraft and helicopters.
Vijit travels to Bahrain tomorrow and later on the United Arab Emirates and Muscat before sailing back to India.
On board yesterday, defence attache at the Indian embassy Ravi Kumar Remanan, executive officer of the ship S C Gupta and the embassy’s Second Secretary Suman Sharma were also present.
Source : Gulf Times / Ramesh Mathew