India concerned about current situation in Gulf region: Antony

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AK Antony
Riyadh, Feb 14: Observing that the current situation in the Gulf region was a cause for "great concern" for India, Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday hoped that the crisis there will be resolved through peaceful dialogue.

The Defence Minister, who is on a two-day visit in Riyadh, said the Gulf region has an "immense importance" in the Indian foreign policy as it provides more than half of country's total crude oil imports.

"The current situation in the Gulf region is a cause for great concern for India and we hope that the crisis in the region will be resolved through peaceful dialogue," Antony said here.

His comments came against the backdrop of EU and US sanctions on Iran's oil export over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.

Soon after landing, the Indian Defence Minister held a meeting with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in Riyadh on Monday.

In the 30-minute meeting, the two leaders expressed satisfaction that both countries are pursuing cooperation in pursuit of the strategic partnership, especially in security, defence, economic and political fields, Indian Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.

King Abdullah offered all assistance to New Delhi, including additional supply of crude oil if it required the same.

For his meetings scheduled with Princes Salman and Khalid on Tuesday, Antony hoped that his discussions with them will lead to specific initiatives to deepen the defence exchanges to the benefit of both the countries.

He expressed confidence that his visit will give a "new substance and direction" to Indo-Saudi defence ties and said, "this constitutes an important component of the emerging strategic partnership between the two countries".

PTI

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