New Delhi, May 12: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will leave on a four-day visit to Oman and UAE next week as part of India's outreach to the strategically important and energy-rich middle east through greater cooperation across sectors.
Parrikar is set to leave for Oman on May 18 during which he will call on the top leadership there and hold bilateral talks with his counterpart.
Oman, considered to be closest to India among the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), had signed a military protocol with India in 1972, which led to a three-year deputation of Indian Navy personnel to man Oman's Navy in 1973. An MoU on defence cooperation was also signed between India and Oman in 2005.
Areas of cooperation include joint military exercises, military training and IT, educational courses and exchange of observers and formal visits. Parrikar will also visit UAE, which was one of the countries visited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.
His visit to the country will coincide with an air exercise being held between the air force of both countries. Indian fighter planes will stop by in UAE on the way back from the Red Flag air exercise in the US.
Following Modi's visit, India and UAE had decided to establish a strategic security dialogue and boost defence ties besides resolving to work together in counter-terrorism operations, combating money laundering, drug trafficking and trans-national crimes.
The two sides had agreed to strengthen defence relations, including through regular exercises and training of naval, air, land and special forces, and in coastal defence.
The UAE also conveyed to India that it will cooperate in manufacture of defence equipment in India. Ahead of Parrikar's visit, a flotilla of three warships had reached Dubai on May 7 to demonstrate India's commitment to maritime relations with countries in the Gulf region.