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New Zealand for deeper defence ties with India

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NEW DELHI (PTI): New Zealand on Tuesday said it faces "maritime insecurity" and terror threat like India does and is keen to enhance cooperation in the areas of defence and security with this country.

A top military official of New Zealand said there are "new imperatives" for both the countries to deepen the security ties.

"Whether we like it or not, India and New Zealand are being exposed to maritime insecurity which are identical and counter terrorism threats which are similar. Of course, we need to talk," Air Commodore Shaun Clarke, New Zealand's Defence Advisor for Canberra and New Delhi, told PTI here.

Clarke, who is part of a 65-member delegation from the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College in Wellington which is visiting here, said both countries have to "crawl, walk and run" when it comes to deepening bilateral defence cooperation.

"We have a longstanding relationship in other streams including trade, economy and historical connections. But in terms of defence and security, there are new imperatives which are causing us to have more conversations," he said.

The official said both the countries are "naturally aligned" since the independent foreign policy, democracy, colonial history and cricket are common to them.

"We are in the Pacific what India is in Indian Ocean. As a steward of security in respect of oceans. We can compare notes," he said.

The Defence Advisor said New Zealand finds think tanks "very impressive" in India.

"We are a small country and we don't have that asset. They (Indian think tanks) are fantastic. They are rich and so we are looking to tap into that," he said adding that his country would like to have tie ups on this front.

In India, the Kiwi delegation will travel to five cities -- Delhi, Agra, Pune, Mumbai and Bengaluru -- where they will visit some of India's leading defence-related institutions, industries and think tanks.

"This visit will deepen India-New Zealand defence ties with members of this delegation having a privileged perspective on India's military and strategic priorities," said the delegation leader Commodore Wayne Burroughs of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The study programme is restricted to officers enrolled for a nine-month course at the Staff College. The touring group includes 12 Officers of the equivalent rank of Major or Lieutenant Colonel and four Warrant Officers from international military forces.

This includes Major Malay Mishra of the Indian National Army, who is currently studying at the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College.

During this week-long defence diplomacy exercise, the delegation will interact with government officials, civil servants, military commanders and industrialists to develop a better understanding of the Asia-Pacific region, an area strategically important to both.

Command and Staff College shares a great deal in common with India's National Defence College (NDC) in New Delhi. As a new initiative, one New Zealand Army Officer will be attending the year-long NDC course in 2015.

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