New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) Deployed in the Gulf for a month, Indian naval ships INS Delhi and INS Trishul reached Doha in Qatar on Monday, as the force reaches out to other friendly navies in the area for joint exercises.
Four ships of the Indian Navy — INS Deepak, INS Delhi, INS Tabar and INS Trishul — are on a month-long deployment to the Gulf to enhance bilateral ties and engage in naval exercises with friendly regional navies.
All four ships are from the Indian Navy’s Mumbai-based Western Fleet.
INS Delhi and INS Trishul reached Qatar after spending four days at the Al-Jubail port in Saudi Arabia.
During this time, the warships had professional interactions and other social engagements with the Royal Saudi Navy.
INS Tabar and INS Deepak reached Kuwait on Sunday (September 13), and will be there till September 16.
“India has an ancient maritime tradition and maritime interaction with the Gulf dates back to over 4,000 years B.C.,” said an official statement from the Indian Navy.
“The current visit seeks to underscore India’s peaceful presence and solidarity with the friendly countries in the Gulf and strengthen the existing bonds of friendship between India and Qatar,” the statement said.
It said the Indian Navy has close and friendly ties with all navies in the Gulf and has been regularly exercising with many of them. The Indian Navy also provides training and hydrographic support to several navies in the region.
“The involvement of Indian naval ships in combating piracy off the coast of Somalia since October 2008 has further strengthened bilateral ties and interaction with navies in the region,” the navy said.
Bilateral relations between India and Qatar has traditionally been focused on economic and people-to-people linkages.
The booming trade relations could soon see India as Qatar’s largest trading partner.
The last decade also witnessed steady growth in defence relations between the countries, which was further strengthened by the Defence Cooperation Agreement signed in November 2008.
The setting up of the India-Qatar Joint Defence Cooperation Committee has enhanced cooperation in training, strategic study, conduct of exercises and information sharing.
“The growing naval cooperation between the countries is evidenced by the increased high level visits in addition to cross training of naval officers and port visits by naval ships,” the statement said.
India and Qatar are also members of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a voluntary and cooperative initiative between 35 countries of the Indian Ocean Region, which has served as an ideal forum for sharing of information and cooperation on maritime issues.