Saudi warships to visit Indian ports

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Dubai, Jul 27 (UNI) Two warships of the Royal Saudi Navy will visit Indian shores from Tuesday, Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia MOH Farook has said in Riyadh.

''The two Saudi war vessels will berth at the Mumbai docks, marking probably the first ever visit to India by an Arab nation's warships, indicating an upswing in defense ties and warming up of relations further,'' Mr Farook said.

''The visit was primarily aimed at fostering deeper understanding, developing mutual trust and identifying fresh avenues of cooperation in defense relations,'' he stated.

The warships ''Al-Dammam,'' a modified French La Fayette-class stealth frigate, and ''Al-Yanbu,'' a modified American-built Endurance-class destroyer, will be on a three-day visit to India.

The two warships will take 76 cadets from Al-Fahd Naval College.

''In the course of the visit, a high-level interaction between the navies of the two countries would take place,'' said an embassy press statement.

The Indian Navy in recent years has developed a ''very close and operational'' relationship with the Saudi Navy with Indian warships making regular calls to the region, including the Kingdom.

''The visit will result in increased interactions and better cooperation in the fields of naval exercises, training, technical assistance and military hardware,'' Mr Farook said.

''India is the world's fourth largest navy with more than 55,000 men and women, including 5,000 naval aviation personnel and 2,000 marine commandos, on its rolls. The Indian Navy currently operates more than 155 vessels, including high-tech aircraft carriers,'' he said.

A number of Saudi officers are currently attending training in India. ''The visit by the Saudi Navy ships is a result of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium organised by India recently,'' the statement said.

Moreover, the Kingdom is an important country in the Indian Ocean Rim and the call is an indication how countries look at India in the emerging world scenario.

The Royal Saudi Navy has more than 12,000 officers, including 1,300 Marines. Its fleet included French-built frigates, US-built corvettes and British-built Sandown class mine hunters.

UNI XC PD RN1227

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