New Delhi, May 17: The proposed official trip of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to UAE tonight has been delayed due to certain scheduling issues and he will now travel to Oman on Friday May 20 and then to the Emirates.
Defence sources said Parrikar will first travel to Oman where he will hold talks with the country's top leadership. He will then visit UAE on May 22-23, they said. Parrikar would be the first Indian Defence Minister to travel to UAE.
Parrikar's visit to the country comes just ahead of an air exercise being held between the air force of the two countries this month. Indian fighter planes will stop by in UAE on the way back from the Red Flag air exercise in the US.
Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi Modi's visit last year, 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, besides cooperation in coastal defence. The UAE had also said 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.
He will visit Oman, considered to be closest to India among the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), on May 20. Oman 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. India had trained 150 Omani military personnel in 2014-15.