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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during the 11th edition of DefExpo, India's biennial military exhibition that seeks to showcase the potential of the country to become a global defence manufacturing hub, in Lucknow. [Image: PTI]
India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday signalled India”s readiness to significantly ramp up defence engagements with countries in Africa, a region where China has been aggressively expanding its military and economic clout.
In an address at a conclave in the DefExpo in Lucknow, Singh said India is geared up to provide offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), fast interceptor boats, night vision goggles (NVGs), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Dornier aircraft, and arms and ammunition to African countries.
The defence minister asserted that India”s development partnership with African nations will be guided by their priorities and capabilities, and it will also focus on combating terrorism, extremism and keeping the cyberspace safe and secure.
The India-Africa Defence Ministers” Conclave was attended by delegates from 38 countries, including 12 defence ministers from the African continent.
“India will continue to intensify and deepen engagement. It will be a partnership guided by your priorities.
“More specifically on the defence cooperation, these include strengthening cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism, keeping our cyberspace safe and secure and supporting the UN in advancing and keeping peace,” Singh said.
It is for the first time that a conclave to explore defence cooperation with African nations has been organised as part of the DefExpo, India”s biennial military exhibition.
Singh said India looked forward to deeper cooperation in a range of areas including through investment, joint ventures in defence production, defence research and development.
“Rapid strides made by the Indian defence industry, both public and private, and defence research and development has opened up new vistas for cooperation to take our engagement to the next level,” he said.
India’s partnership with Africa has been an “open partnership” with all the possibilities and avenues for collaboration being offered to the continent, the defence minister said.
Singh also stressed on the importance of safe secure seas which he said was a pre-requisite for development of blue economy in the region.
He said that India recognised the common security challenges in the form of transnational crimes of piracy, trafficking of drugs, arms and humans, and illegal fishing.
In the light of these challenges there was a call for stronger partnerships for capacity building, information sharing and surveillance, he added.
India’s increased engagement in the region has enabled it to be the first responder in providing humanitarian assistance in times of crisis like Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and more recently, Cyclone Diane in Madagascar, Singh said.
The conclave adopted an India-Africa declaration on defence cooperation.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria and Chief of Army Staff Gen M M Naravane were among those present at the conclaveSource: PTI
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