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India, Kazakhstan agree to ramp up military ties

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inspects the guard of honour by the armed forces of Kazakhstan in Astana. Photo: Twitter/Defence Ministry

NEW DELHI (PTI): India and Kazakhstan agreed to step up military cooperation, especially in the areas of defence production, as Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met her counterpart Nurlan Yermekbayev during her three-day visit to the central Asian country, a statement said Thursday.

During her Kazakhstan visit, which commenced on October 2, Sitharaman also met Minister of Defence and Aerospace Industry Beibut Atamkulov.

They discussed a wide range of issues relating to defence and military technical cooperation and took stock of the progress of the bilateral relationship, especially in the defence sector.

The two countries had renewed the Memorandum of Cooperation on defence in January 2017. Both countries are 'strategic partners' since 2009.

"Smt Nirmala Sitharaman also discussed issues relating to defence production with the Minister for Defence and Aerospace Industry. In this connection, the possibilities of joint production and/or co-production were discussed based upon the relative strengths and experience of both sides. She also discussed regional developments with the Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Mr Kairat Abdrakhmanov," the statement said.

India and Kazakhstan defence cooperation includes military-technical cooperation, military education and training, joint military exercises, bilateral exchange of visits and cadet youth exchange programmes.

Over 200 Kazakh defence forces personnel have undergone military training in India till date. Both countries successfully conducted a company-level joint military exercise 'KAZIND-2018' in south Kazakhstan last month.

Sitharaman and Yermekbayev presided over the flag off ceremony of the Kazakhstan contingent that will join the Indian contingent at the United Nations International Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon.

The statement said the Kazakh contingent will join the Indian contingent at Lebanon by the end of this month.

She also invited Yermekbayev Atamkulov to visit India and to attend Aero India 2019 to be held in Bengaluru in February 2019, the statement added.

Sitharaman also visited the National Defence University where she was shown the Indian Military Art Room (IMAR), which has been established with Indian assistance.

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